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Karnataka HC: Caste Certificate Not a Barrier to Address Fraudulent Claims

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Published on: 27 September 2023 at 12:11 IST

The Karnataka High Court has clarified that a caste certificate should not be treated as an insurmountable barrier against addressing fraudulent claims. It can be revoked through the appropriate legal proceedings if it was obtained through fraudulent means.

This decision came in an intra-court appeal challenging a Single Judge’s order regarding a writ petition. The Single Judge’s order had canceled an inquiry into the petitioner’s social status, citing the issuance of a Validity Certificate by the District Verification Committee.

The petitioner was satisfied with the cancellation of the inquiry, It was objected to the part of the order reserving the right for a future inquiry “in the event of any irregularity in the petitioner’s caste, this order will not come in the way of any action that may be initiated in accordance with the law.”

A Division Bench consisting of Chief Justice Prasanna B. Varale and Justice Krishna S. Dixit emphasized that if a social status certificate is acquired through fraudulent means, it can be revoked through the appropriate legal process by the authorities. Therefore, a Validity Certificate should not be seen as an impervious obstacle preventing any action from being taken.

The appellant’s counsel argued against the granted liberty, while the Additional Government Advocate representing the respondents contended that authorities have the discretion to initiate action under the Karnataka Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes (Reservation of Appointment, etc.) Act, 1990, and its related rules, even without such explicit reservation.

After hearing both sides and reviewing the appeal documents, the Court declined to interfere in the matter, concurring with the stance of the Additional Government Advocate.

The Court noted that when a social status certificate is obtained unlawfully, through fraud, or granted by mistake, legal proceedings are generally permitted under the provisions of the 1990 Act and the accompanying regulations, subject to just exceptions.

Considering these factors, the appeal was found to lack merit and was dismissed, with costs awarded to the respondents.

Case Title: Satish Choudappa Honnali v. The State of Karnataka & Ors.,