The Delhi High Court recently made some scorching remarks against false cases of caste discrimination, opining that they are "equally divisive and pernicious to the integrity of the people of this nation as acts of hostile discrimination on that basis".
Justice Vibhu Bakhru was hearing a Petition filed by Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL), challenging the minutes of the meetings of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, which had directed IOCL to restore a Distributorship Agreement to an Allottee. The Commission had opined that the dealership had been cancelled with a motive to harass a Scheduled Tribe allottee and warned IOCL that action would be taken against erring officials under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
The Court, however, opined that the candidate was not subjected to any hostile treatment on account of him belonging to a Scheduled Tribe category. Despite this, the impugned order had noted, "This Pump has been allotted to a Scheduled Tribe category and is operating from the property of the applicant. The attempt to take over the pump from the ST category allottee also invokes suspicion against the Oil Company."
These observations, it observed, were "bereft of any basis, and without any application of mind" and added, "In the present case, there was no material before the Commission to even remotely suggest that there was any derivation of rights and safeguards of any Scheduled Tribe. The representation made by respondent no.2 merely articulated his grievance regarding the action taken by IOCL, which he described as high handed. He had apart from alleging various irregularities had specifically alleged violation of certain rules and regulations. But, he had made no allegation of any discrimination or hostile treatment on account of being a member of a Schedule Tribe...
...The said observations are plainly perverse considering that no such allegation was made by respondent no. 2 in his representation to the Commission or to IOCL. False claims of hostile discrimination on the basis of caste are equally divisive and pernicious to the integrity of the people of this nation as acts of hostile discrimination on that basis."
Therefore, setting aside the impugned order, the Court observed that the Commission misunderstood its role under Article 338A of the Constitution of India, holding that it is not an alternative forum for dispute resolution and that it has no adjudicatory function.