SC stays HC judgment that cancelled MP Navneet Kaur-Rana’s caste certificate

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By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
June 22, 2021 2:57:54 pm

Navneet Kaur-RanaNavneet Kaur-Rana. (File/Express Photo by Renuka Puri)

The Supreme Court has stayed a Bombay High Court judgment which had cancelled the “wrong caste certificate” obtained by Amravati MP Navneet Kaur-Rana.

Since Kaur-Rana, an Independent candidate, had won from a constituency which was reserved for members of the Scheduled Caste community, the Bombay HC order meant that she was in danger of losing her seat. Kaur-Rana’s certificate stated that she was a member of the ‘Mochi’ community.

But a vacation bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari stayed the operation of the High Court judgment on Tuesday and issued notice on the special leave petition filed by her against the HC judgment, the Live Law reported.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Amravati MP, stated that the terms “mochi” and “chamaar” are synonymous.

The scrutiny committee had determined the MP’s caste status based on original records, Rohatgi said, adding that though the high court did not contest the authenticity of the documents, it went on to reverse the decision of the scrutiny committee through a writ petition, the Live Law reported.

Rohatgi argued that the HC decision was “erroneous” as it had ignored several important documents.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for the petitioners who had approached the HC against the MP’s caste certificate, said that the vigilance committee had found that many documents were fabricated.

The apex court asked Sibal to file a counter-affidavit in the matter and stayed the Bombay High Court judgment.

The Bombay HC had earlier asked Kaur-Rana to surrender the certificate to the Committee within six weeks and directed her to pay a cost of Rs 2 lakh to the Maharashtra Legal Services Authority within two weeks, adding that “all the consequences in law provided upon cancellation of such a fraudulently obtained certificate shall follow.”

The court had also pulled up the District Caste Scrutiny Committee, Mumbai, which validated the certificate in November 2017, saying it “did its job rather sloppily and shirked the obligations imposed on it”.

The HC had noted that the claim of belonging to the “mochi” caste made by Kaur-Rana was fraudulent and observed that “two sets of documents” produced by the MP before the Scrutiny Committee were “contradictory to each other”, adding that such “wrong caste certificate” may deprive genuine and deserving persons of their due benefits.

“Since the respondent has obtained the caste certificate fraudulently and got the said caste certificate validated fraudulently from Caste Scrutiny Committee by producing fabricated and fraudulent documents, such caste certificate is cancelled and stands confiscated. It is needless to observe that all the consequences in law provided upon cancellation of such a fraudulently obtained certificate shall follow,” the Bombay HC had stated.

Kaur-Rana had won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections after the Congress-NCP combine decided to extend support to her, leading to her defeating then sitting MP, Anandrao Adsul of the Shiv Sena.

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