11 Sep 2023 4:05 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court recently imposed cost of Rs. 3 Lakhs on the Chairperson and members of District Caste Certificate Scrutiny Committee, Mumbai Suburban for "extreme stress and inconvenience" caused to a student due to delay in issuance of her caste validity certificate.A division bench of Justice Sunil B Shukre and Justice Firdosh P Pooniwalla held that the delay, solely attributable to...
The Bombay High Court recently imposed cost of Rs. 3 Lakhs on the Chairperson and members of District Caste Certificate Scrutiny Committee, Mumbai Suburban for "extreme stress and inconvenience" caused to a student due to delay in issuance of her caste validity certificate.
A division bench of Justice Sunil B Shukre and Justice Firdosh P Pooniwalla held that the delay, solely attributable to the Scrutiny Committee, should not cause injustice to the student who couldn’t submit the certificate to the college authorities in time for her admission.
“It would be clear from the admissions given by the Scrutiny Committee that it was solely responsible for belated delivery of caste validity certificate to the petitioner and if that is so, this would be a case wherein petitioner cannot be permitted to be punished for the mistake or illegality, whatever one may choose to say by the Scrutiny Committee”, the court held.
Iqra Ansari, a 21-year-old student took admission in the BHMS Degree Course at Motiwala (National) Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital in a seat reserved for OBC category in 2019. She filed the present writ petition contending that the delay in the delivery of her caste validity certificate jeopardized her admission to the college.
Ansari's contention was that, although her caste validity certificate was ready on July 24, 2019, it was delivered to her on February 17, 2020. The cutoff date for submission of the validity certificate was September 30, 2019. If the certificate had been delivered to her on time, she could have submitted it to the authorities within the deadline, she contended.
The court had in a previous hearing accepted this contention and direct that the result of the petitioner of 3rd year BHMS degree course to be declared. It also directed that the petitioner be permitted to appear for examinations in accordance with law. The court had further directed the Member Secretary of the Scrutiny Committee to explain the delay on the part of the committee.
The Scrutiny Committee, in its Affidavit-in-Reply dated January 13, 2023, acknowledged the delay and accepted responsibility for it. The reply, sworn by Ujwala Sapkale, Member Secretary of the District Caste Certificate Scrutiny Committee, stated that the caste claim of the petitioner was validated on July 24, 2019. However, due to unjustifiable reasons, notices were sent to the petitioner to submit additional documents. In the reply, the Scrutiny Committee stated that issuing notices and demanding documents after validating the caste claim was without jurisdiction, tendering an unconditional apology for its actions.
The court said that this was a “clear cut admission given by the Scrutiny Committee about it itself being responsible for delay in delivery of the caste validity certificate to the petitioner.”
The court observed that in cases where the delay is entirely the fault of a government body, strict adherence to deadlines cannot be allowed to harm deserving candidates.
“There may be a cut-off date prescribed for submission of the validity certificates by the aspiring candidates, but in a case like this, where the delay in delivery of the validity certificate lay completely at the doorsteps of the Scrutiny Committee, such deadline cannot be operated in a manner as to cause injustice to a deserving candidate like the petitioner. In such a case, in our considered view, the equity would tilt heavily in favour of the petitioner…”, the court observed.
Thus, the court directed the Directorate of Ayush, Maharashtra, the Admission Regulating Authority, Maharashtra, and Maharashtra University of Health Sciences to grant approval for the petitioner's admission to the BHMS Degree Course from the date she was initially admitted, within two weeks from the date of the order.
The court held the Chairman and members of the Scrutiny Committee jointly and severally liable to pay a cost of Rs. 3 lakhs to the petitioner within eight weeks. If they fail to comply, the amount would be recovered from their salaries and given to the petitioner within four weeks from the date of the default.
The court ordered the cost to be paid to Tata Memorial Hospital on behalf of the petitioner, as per her request.
Case no. – Writ Petition No. 15277 of 2022
Case Title – Iqra Maqsood Ahmed Ansari v. State of Maharashtra and Ors.
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment