Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act| Non-Submission Of Caste Validity Certificate Within Stipulated Time Disqualifies Membership: Bombay HC
Finding that the Petitioner did not have a caste validity certificate, the Bombay High Court held that the Collector has rightly exercised his jurisdiction under section 16 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act, disqualifying the petitioner under section 10-1A of the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act.
The Bench of Justice Arun R. Pednekar observed that "non-submission of caste validity certificate within time stipulated under section 10-1A of Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act leads to termination of election retrospectively and is disqualified for being a member of the Village Panchayat".
The principle of res-judicata cannot be applied in the instant case for disqualification under section 10-1A, added the Bench.
Advocate A.N. Nagargoje appeared for the Petitioner and AGP V.N. Patil-Jadhav appeared for the Respondents.
Going by the background of the case, the Petitioner belonging to a scheduled tribe, contested general election of Village Panchayat against the post reserved for S.T. Category and got elected for the said post. Since the Petitioner did not have caste validity certificate at the time of nomination, she forwarded the proposal for validation of her caste certificate to the Scrutiny Committee. The Committee however, confiscated the tribe certificate, leaving it open to the Petitioner to get the appropriate caste certificate from the competent authority, but the Petitioner had no knowledge about such order. Meanwhile the earlier term of the Petitioner was over and the new term of the village panchayat was declared. Accordingly, the Petitioner again contested the election with the same earlier caste certificate being submitted to the Scrutiny Committee. Again, the Petitioner got elected against the reserved post of S.T. Women category.
After a period of one year, the sixth Respondent filed dispute before the third Respondent i.e., District Collector, Nanded by taking recourse to the provisions of sections 10-1A read with Section 16 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act and prayed that the Petitioner be declared as disqualified as her caste certificate was invalidated by the Scrutiny Committee. On knowing about the complaint, the Petitioner applied for fresh certificate which was rejected. Thereafter, The District Collector disqualified the Petitioner from being a member of the Village Panchayat on account of non-submission of the validity certificate within a stipulated period. Hence, the present petition.
After analyzing the provisions of the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act, the High Court found that the jurisdiction of the Civil Judge, trying an election petition under section 15 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act is circumscribed by sub-section (5) and (6) of section 15.
“The words ‘or submitted a false claim or a false Caste Certificate’ in section 15 (5)(a) were deleted with effect from 21.12.2006. Thus, ‘the submission of a false claim or a false caste certificate’ was taken out from the purview of the judge determining the election petition. Section 10-1A was also introduced with effect from 21.12.2006, wherein any person desirous of contesting the election to a seat reserved for scheduled castes, scheduled tribe or backward classes shall be required to submit along-with nomination paper, caste certificate issued by the competent authority and the validity certificate issued by the scrutiny committee”, observed the Court.
The Bench noted that the proviso to section 10-1A gives an option of submitting the caste validity certificate at the time of filing of the nomination or to produce proof of having made an application to the Scrutiny Committee to validate his caste validity certificate and in the event, the caste validity certificate is not produced within a period mentioned in section 10-1A, his election is deemed to have been terminated retrospectively and he shall be disqualified from being a member.
The Bench, therefore, dismissed the petition and concluded that the Collector under section 16 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with the issue of submission of a false claim or a false caste certificate at the time of nomination or non-submission of caste validity certificate within the period contemplated in section 10-1A of the Village Panchayat Act.
Cause Title: Archana v. State of Maharashtra and Ors.