15 July 2023 9:46 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Monday set aside the reports prepared by the Kerala Institute for Research Training and Development (KIRTAD) recommending against grant of community certificate to a 19 year old B.Com student born to an inter-religious couple. Petitioner's mother belonged to 'Paniya' community, a recognized Scheduled Tribe community and father to Orthodox Syrian Christian. She claimed...
The Kerala High Court on Monday set aside the reports prepared by the Kerala Institute for Research Training and Development (KIRTAD) recommending against grant of community certificate to a 19 year old B.Com student born to an inter-religious couple.
Petitioner's mother belonged to 'Paniya' community, a recognized Scheduled Tribe community and father to Orthodox Syrian Christian. She claimed to be raised within the cultural bounds of the Paniya Tribe as her paternal family was estranged to them.
Single Judge Bench of Justice Viju Abraham, found that the reports by the authority was prepared without adverting to the relevant facts and circumstances of the particular case. It thus directed KIRTAD to reconsider her case after providing an opportunity of hearing.
The petitioner was aggrieved that despite applying for a caste certificate, the Tahsildar, Taluk Office, Thrissur (4th respondent herein) rejected the request on finding that the petitioner and her family allegedly led a life distant from the way of life and social circumstances of the Paniya community.
The petitioner however, asserted that she had been residing in Paniya Colony since her birth and that her mother had constructed a house after receiving financial assistance for Scheduled Tribes from the Government authorities, as well as was covered under the Rice Distribution Scheme for Scheduled Tribes. She further stated that a certificate had also been granted by the Head (Moopen) certifying that the petitioner belongs to the Paniya community and was brought up in that community.
The petitioner averred that in spite of the same, the KIRTADS enquired into the matter and submitted a report against the petitioner, without affording her an opportunity of being heard. When the petitioner had challenged the same vide another writ petition, the Court had disposed of the matter by directing KIRTADS to reconsider the matter after affording an opportunity of being heard to the petitioner. The petitioner submitted that subsequently, after the enquiry was conducted, report was submitted, holding that the petitioner did not belong to the Scheduled Tribe Paniya community of Kerala, but the Orthodox Syrian Christian community.
She stated that the Scrutiny Committee also rejected the Scheduled Tribe Paniya claim of the petitioner and cancelled all community certificates issued to that effect., and an order was issued by the Government holding neither the petitioner nor her siblings eligible for any of the benefits extended to the members of the Scheduled Tribe community.
It is on being aggrieved by the same that the petitioner approached the Court with the present writ.
Advocates Kaleeswaram Raj and Thulasi K. Raj argued that the assumption that the offspring of a lower social ranked woman who marries a higher ranked man would be more attached to the higher ranked father, and free from the social stigma that a Scheduled Tribe community supposedly carries forward, that formed the basis of the report, was vitiated. The counsels submitted that a general assumption could not be made that the offspring would be attached to one caste status than the other. The petitioner specifically averred that caste disability does not vanish even after someone marries a person belonging to a higher caste.
Additionally, the counsels argued that none of the contentions raised by the petitioner had been considered by the KIRTADS, the Scrutiny Committee or the Government.
The Government Pleader Sunilkumar Kuriakose on the other hand, argued that the petitioner had suppressed relevant facts in the case. It was averred that the maternal grandparents of the petitioner had converted Christianity and that her mother's caste as entered in school records was that of Christian Jacobite. "Therefore, it is evident from the petitioner's mother's generation that they were away from the cultural background of Scheduled Tribe Christian Paniya community. From the marriage of the parents of the petitioner, the cultural belief of her mother deviated to Orthodox Christian, as the father of the petitioner belongs to said community," it was argued. It was thus submitted that the cultural values and ethos accumulated and socialization process accomplished by the petitioner were largely borrowed from the paternal side.
Findings of the Court
The Court at the outset perused the decision in Indira v. State of Kerala (2006), wherein it had been held that even if one of the parent belonging to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe community, the child would be entitled for the benefit of the said community, but the crucial aspect to be considered would be as to whether the claimant has suffered disability socially, economically and educationally and the society has accepted the claimant to their original fold as one among them and is living in the same social tenet.
The Court noted that none of the contentions raised by the petitioner had been considered by the respondents in issuing the reports.
"Though stated in the report as well as in the counter affidavit that the field verification and enquiries were conducted in this regard, the report does not reveal that any such enquiry or statement of any of the persons was recorded before the issuance of Ext.P14 report. A perusal of the report clearly shows that the KIRTADS proceeded on the basis of the general statements that generally in case of inter-caste marriage, the socialization process of the off-spring of such couples is more attached to the high ranked," the Court observed.
It thus held that the report had been prepared without taking into account the specific facts of the matter, and that Scrutiny Committee and the Government had also accepted the report in toto without adverting to the objections raised by the petitioner.
It thus set aide the reports, and directed KIRTADS to reconsider the matter and submit a report, after affording an opportunity of being heard to the petitioner and after conducting a proper enquiry in the matter. The petitioner was also granted liberty to submit argument notes producing all the relevant documents in support of her claim that she belongs to the Scheduled Tribe Paniya community.
"The Scrutiny Committee and the 1st respondent State shall issue further orders in this regard after receipt of the report to be submitted by the 2nd respondent as directed above after affording reasonable opportunity to the petitioner for a hearing. The proceedings as directed above shall be finalised at the earliest, at any rate, within an outer limit of six months from the date receipt of a copy of this judgment," the Court added, while disposing the case.
Case Title: Rebeka Mathai v. State of Kerala & Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 330
Click Here To Read/Download The Judgment