Not Govt, Only Parliament Can Make Changes In The List Of SCs And STs: Karnataka HC [Read Order]

Not Govt, Only Parliament Can Make Changes In The List Of SCs And STs: Karnataka HC [Read Order]

The Karnataka High Court recently reminded the State government that it is only the Parliament which can make changes in the list of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, scorning over the issuance of circulars and government orders by the State government interfering with the same.

Justice R. Devdas observed, "It is high time that the political class/lawmakers understand that the State Governments do not have the power to tinker with the Presidential Order. The State Governments, State Legislature and the Central Government are not vested with the power to tinker with the list of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
It is Parliament alone which is empowered by law to include or exclude any caste, race or tribe or part of or group within any caste, race or tribe, from the list of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe. Whatever be the intention behind such circulars or Government orders, it is advisable to learn from past experiences, the fact that more damage is caused than any benefit really flowing from such executive orders."
The court was hearing petitions filed by one HR Sumangala and a few others who had joined various public-sector banks during 1979-82 using caste certificates grouping them under 'Rama Kshatriya', claiming that it was a synonym for the 'Kotegar' community which is notified as a Scheduled Caste.
However, in 1998, the District Caste Verification Committee refused to issue validity certificates to them, on the ground that 'Rama Kshatriya' was not a Scheduled Caste.
Thereafter, the State government issued a government order in March, 2002, granting amnesty to all such persons who had secured jobs on the basis of caste certificates claiming that they belonged to the 'Kotegar community', even though persons belonging to Rama Kshatriya, Kote Kshatriya, Kotegara, Koteyava, Koteyara, Sherugara and Sarvegara do not fall under the 'Kotegar community'. This protection extended to their employments, on the condition that they shall be treated as general category candidates and shall not be eligible for any benefits of reservation henceforth.
Nevertheless, such employees were issued show-cause notices by the bank managements based on a communication received from the Additional Director-General of Police of the Directorate of Civil Rights Enforcement (DCRE). They then approached the court in 2014-15, questioning the validity of these show-cause notices issued to them.
They had contended that since they had surrendered their caste certificates way back in 2008-09 after being granted amnesty, the DCRE had no authority of law to direct initiation of action against them.
The court, however, held that the continuance of the petitioners in the employment of the respondent-banks is without authority of law. It further pointed out that Rule 7A of the Karnataka SC/ST and other BC (Reservation of Appointments, Etc.) Rules, 1992 empowers the DCRE Cell to take steps to prosecute those who obtain false caste certificates.
The court added that had the respondent-authorities, including the DCRE, taken prompt action, several such persons who had obtained employment on the basis of false caste claims could have been removed from service.
It, in fact, opined that continuance of employment of all such persons is akin to
"allowing a thief to retain stolen property",
reiterating the words of the Supreme Court in Chairman and Managing Director, FCI and Ors. Vs. Jagdish Balaram Bahira and others.
The court further noted that a Division bench of the court had, in 1995 in Paduthota Ramachandra v. Union of India declared that Government Orders issued by the State government cannot vest a right contrary to Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution of India. It had then given a grace period of one year to the State government to coordinate with the Central Government and the Parliament to include such sub-castes, which were synonymous with the communities that were already included, in the Presidential list.
This grace period having elapsed in 1996, it asserted that the respondents were duty bound to initiate action and remove from service all such persons who had obtained employment on the basis of false caste claims.
"The delayed action on the part of the Directorate of Civil Rights Enforcement, has benefited many such persons including the petitioners herein, many of whom have already attained the age of superannuation. Repeating the words of Their Lordships, 'if we desire to build a nation on the touchstone of ethics and character and if our determined goal is to build a nation where only the Rule of Law prevails', then we cannot accept or permit the petitioners and all such persons to continue in the office even for a minute,"
it observed.
The petitions were, therefore, dismissed, with the court upholding the show cause notices as well as the decision of dismissal already taken by the authorities.
Read the Order Here