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Madras High Court dismisses PIL seeking direction to scrutinize authenticity of community certificate

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The Madras High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed seeking a direction to scrutinise the genuineness of the Community Certificates of private respondents as Hindu-Thomban, as they have been issued by the Revenue Tahsildar , Sankarapuram, Kallakurichi District in pursuant to Principal Secretary to Government, Department of Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department, Secretariat G.O.(2D).No.108, Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare (CV-I) Department, dated 12.09.2007.

The PIL has been filed by one S.Annamalai.

P.Saravanan , counsel for the petitioner submitted that the Caste Certificates have been issued in favour of private respondents , though they do not belong to the caste of which the Certificates have been issued. The petitioner made a representation to the District Collector and many other authorities, to question the Caste Certificates given to private respondents , but no heed to it has been paid.

The counsel for the petitioner has given reference to certain documents to indicate that representations have been given. Reference to the order of the High Court, dated 14.02.2017 in the case of V.Chitra VS. State of Tamil Nadu, represented by its Secretary to Government, Rural Development and Panchayat Department, Fort St.George, Chennai-9 and 7 others, was made, where challenge to the exercise taken by the respondents therein to cancel the Caste Certificate of the petitioner Chitra therein, was not accepted.

In view of the above order of the High Court, prayer is made to direct the respondents to consider the representations of the petitioner, to cancel the Caste Certificates issued to private respondents.

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The Petition is opposed by the State Government Pleader appearing for the respondents authorities , not only on the ground of maintainability of the Petition, but also on the ground that the remedy to challenge the Caste Certificates, lies to the District Level Vigilance Committee. The Petition to address the question of facts, cannot be entertained while exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

It is further stated by the Government Pleader that the Petition is not a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), but it is filed on personal interest, as reference to the Caste Certificate issued to the fourth respondent against whom the petitioner has contested the Election to Local Body, has been shown. He lost in the said Election and thus, the present Petition has been filed to settle the dispute with the private respondents. Prayer is accordingly made to dismiss the Petition.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy after considering the rival submissions held that referring to the facts of the case which needs determination of the question of facts, the High Court, exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, would not enter into the question of facts, especially, when the remedy to challenge the Caste Certificates lies with the District Level Vigilance Committee.

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The petitioner has failed to give any reason for not approaching the District Level Vigilance Committee to consider his grievance. It is more so that after the District Level Vigilance Committee, there is another Committee at the State Level, namely State Level Scrutiny Committee , observed the High Court.

The counsel for the petitioner has drawn the attention of the Bench towards certain representations given to the District Collector to indicate that the District Collector being the Chair-person of the District Level Vigilance Committee, had been approached, and therefore, the petitioner had taken the remedy and thereafter, he has approached the High Court.

The High Court do not found that the representations had been addressed to the District Collector in the capacity of the Chair-person of the District Level Vigilance Committee. The Bench found invariably that whenever Petition is filed, it is after addressing the representation to the District Collector or some officials of the Government and the same format has been followed in this case also, without realising that effective mechanism made for scrutiny of the issue is available, and it can be looked into on factual aspects also.

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It is observed by the High Court that complaint is otherwise omni-bus and general complaint against the Caste Certificates, is coming out from the representation. It seems to have been submitted for the sake of it, without supplying materials and details as to how the Caste Certificates have been wrongly issued in favour of private respondents .

For all the reasons stated above, the Court do not find the PIL is maintainable. It is more so, when it has been filed after a lapse of several years of grant of Caste Certificates, but in any case, leaving it open for the petitioner to take remedy as is available in law. The Petition is dismissed holding it to be not maintainable at this stage.

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