The Uttarakhand High Court observed that a married woman could not be denied the benefit of her caste which she was enjoying before her marriage as long as there was no provisions of law or rule that a married woman must obtain a fresh certificate of caste upon her marriage.

The Bench of Justice Manoj Kumar Tiwari observed that “Caste status is acquired by birth and not by marriage. Thus, a girl, who does not belong to Other Backward Classes, will not get benefit of reservation available to Other Backward Classes merely by her marriage to a person belonging to O.B.C.”

In this case, the respondent no. 2 had invited applications for 40 posts of Dental Hygienist. The petitioner, being duly qualified, applied for a post reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBC). The petitioner stood 14th in order of merit against 40 vacancies, however, only 13 candidates were recommended for appointment. The petitioner was rejected on the ground that validity period of her OBC certificate had expired three days before publication of advertisement.

The petitioner preferred the writ petition before the High Court wherein it was held that petitioner was member of OBC and had been issued fresh OBC certificate. Therefore, the Competent Authority should re-consider petitioner’s claim in the light of fresh OBC certificate.

But the petitioner’s claim for appointment was rejected again on serving the judgment and filing the affidavit before the respondent no. 2. Aggrieved of the said order, the petitioner approached the High Court.

Advocate Sanjay Bhatt appeared for the petitioner and Advocate Narayan Dutt, Brief Holder for the State appeared.

Two issues, before the Court, which required consideration for determining the petitioner’s eligibility were-

(i) whether she belongs to Other Backward Classes; - With regard to this, the High Court had returned finding that petitioner belonged to OBC, therefore, that question could not be re-opened.

(ii) whether she belongs to creamy layer or not- the High Court had decided the same against her on the ground that petitioner’s marriage was solemnised.

The Court was apprised of the fact that the petitioner had obtained the OBC certificate by mentioning address and income of her father and not of her husband. And, reliance had been placed on Government Order for recording adverse finding against petitioner that she suppressed information regarding marriage in her application made to the Competent Authority for issuance OBC certificate.

The Court observed that reliance placed on Government order for rejecting petitioner’s claim was misplaced. “There is no Statute or Government Order, providing that a girl belonging to OBC category has to obtain OBC certificate on the basis of income of her husband immediately after her marriage.”

"Respondent no. 2 has rejected petitioner’s claim for appointment based on value judgment and not based on any provision of law. O.B.C. certificate issued in favour of petitioner by Competent Authority cannot be set at naught, merely because petitioner’s action does not confirm to second respondent’s notions of socially accepted norms." expressed the Court.

Therefore, the Court observed that “In the absence of express provision in law providing that, after marriage, a girl has to obtain O.B.C. certificate, based on income of her husband and not her father, petitioner’s conduct cannot be said to be illegal so as to render her caste certificate null and void.”

Accordingly, the High Court allowed the writ petition and had set aside the impugned order of the respondent no. 2 and directed it to recommend petitioner’s name for appointment to the Competent Authority.

Cause Title- Smt. Poonam v. State of Uttarakhand & Ors.

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