Hyderabad: The Hyderabad High Court on Wednesday made it clear that it is a person’s upbringing that must be taken into account while determining his/her caste if they are born to inter-caste parents.
It also said that officials from the revenue department are the competent authorities to ascertain the community where the child has been brought up. Once they certify the child’s caste after verification process, it is not open for officials of universities and the social welfare department to question it while according seats in educational institutions, a bench of Justice V Ramasubramanian and Justice Anis said.
The bench said this in its judgment in a case filed by Sabbella Siri Manjoosha Reddy of Visakhapatnam district, whose scheduled caste (SC) certificate was questioned by the authorities of the NTR health university and the social welfare department. They refused to accord her an MBBS seat under the SC quota on the ground that her father is a Reddy. Though her mother is from scheduled caste, the daughter cannot claim reservation because her father is an upper caste person, they said, citing the judgement of the Supreme Court, delivered in 2012, in the Rameshbhai Dabhai Naika versus State of Gujarat case to support their claims.
However, Justice Ramasubramanian, who perused the records of the student and the cited judgement, concluded that the SC judgement was actually in favour of Siri Manjoosha. The judgement never said that the father’s caste is the child’s caste. It clearly said that the upbringing of the child is the crux.
Siri’s mother filed an affidavit in the court saying that after her marriage, she stayed with her family and brought up her children in her village according to the customs and practices prevailing in the community. It is perhaps on the basis of this that the revenue authorities gave Siri Manjoosha the SC certificate, the bench said, adding that this cannot be ignored by the university.
Finding fault with the officials of the NTR varsity and the social welfare department, the bench questioned the basis for their doubts. The SC certificate had not been cancelled. Nor was it referred to any scrutiny committee for reverification. Also, the verification was done by the social welfare department and varsity officials, who are not competent to do so, the bench said. They are not entitled to disregard the caste certificate issued by the revenue department. They cannot make this valid document a dead letter, the bench said, and directed the university to treat Siri Manjoosha as belonging to the SC community.
Verdict of significance in Rohith Vemula case
Deceased research scholar of University of Hyderabad, Rohith Vemula‘s caste status had become a bone of contention after his suicide, especially as it has an effect on the consequent FIR against those responsible for it. Though Rohith was born to a BC (backward caste) father and an SC mother, he was brought up by his mother and grew up as an SC. The officials of various departments, who are at loggerheads with several claims and counter-claims can now rely on this judgement to arrive at a correct conclusion, legal analysts now say.