A full bench of the Bombay High Court declared that it is mandatory for a candidate contesting from a reserved seat to produce a caste validity certificate within 12 months of the date of election and failure to do so would lead to retrospective termination.
Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, Justice RV Ghuge and Justice RG Avachat at the Aurangabad bench answered a reference regarding election of a candidate to the village panchayat on a reserved seat by incorporating reasons given by another full bench of the High Court in Anant H Ulahalkar Vs. Chief Election Commissioner & Ors.
The full bench referred to Section 10-1A of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act, 1958 and Section 9A of Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Industrial Townships Act, 1965. While S.10-1A dealt with "Person contesting election for reserved seat to submit Caste Certificate and Validity Certificate", S.9A also dealt with the same subject, thus Court said-
"The two provisions are pari materia. The main Section requires a person desirous of contesting election to a seat reserved for a Member of a Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe or a Backward Class to submit along with the nomination paper a caste certificate issued by the competent authority and a validity certificate issued by the Scrutiny Committee in accordance with the provisions of the Maharashtra Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, De-notified Tribes (Vimukta Jatis), Nomadic Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Special Backward Category (Regulation of Issuance and Verification of) Caste Certificate Act, 2000.
In both the aforesaid Sections, first proviso permits a candidate to file the nomination papers sans the Scrutiny Committee Certificate of the Caste Certificate provided the candidate has applied to the Scrutiny Committee before the date of filing the nomination and has not received the validity certificate on the date of filing the nomination. The second proviso mandates that if the said person fails to produce the validity certificate within the period stipulated in the proviso his election shall be deemed to have terminated retrospectively and such person shall be disqualified for being a Councillor."
The Full Bench noted that in Anant H. Ulahalkar there was a difference of opinion between different Benches of High Court concerning Section 9-A of the Act of 1965 and recognised that although the candidate would be prejudiced for no fault of his if the Caste Scrutiny Committee did not issue the validity certificate within the time contemplated by the second proviso but held that the mandate of the legislature could not be diluted.
"The decision terminates by holding that the provision is mandatory and if within the time contemplated by the second proviso no validity certificate is obtained the consequences as per the proviso shall ensue.
The decision of the Full Bench has been accorded approval of by the Supreme Court vide decision reported as (2019) 3 SCC 220 Shankar s/o Raghunath Devre (Patil) Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors" Court said.
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