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Sunita Singh Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (19 Jan 2018)

Caste is determined by birth and cannot be changed by marriage with a person of scheduled caste



Judgment passed by the High Court dismissing the writ petition filed by the Appellant and confirming the order of termination from service passed against the Appellant, is called in question in instant appeal. Appellant was born in "Agarwal" family. She married Dr. Veer Singh, who happens to belong to "Jatav" Community (said to be one of the Scheduled Castes). A caste certificate dated 29th November, 1991 was issued by District Magistrate/Collector, Bulandshahar certifying the Appellant as of Scheduled Caste (Jatav). Based on the academic qualifications and the caste certificate, she was appointed initially as a Post Graduate Teacher (Hindi) vide letter dated 16th December, 1993 at Kendriya Vidyalaya. During the course of her service, she completed her M. Ed. and served the institution for about 21 years as teacher.

A complaint was lodged against the Appellant to the effect that, she was born in "Agarwal" family (general caste category) and after her marriage with a person of scheduled caste, she obtained a caste certificate in question. After making preliminary verification, the jurisdictional officer directed to conduct an enquiry in respect of the caste certificate of the Appellant. The Tehsildar vide his order cancelled the caste certificate of the Appellant and asked the Appellant to return the caste certificate issued earlier to the Appellant. The appeal filed by the Appellant before the State Level Committee against the order of the appellate authority cancelling her caste certificate came to be dismissed. The Appellant's further efforts of approaching the High Court by filing the writ petition also failed, as the High Court dismissed the writ petition by the impugned judgment.

There cannot be any dispute that, the caste is determined by birth and the caste cannot be changed by marriage with a person of scheduled caste. Undoubtedly, the Appellant was born in "Agarwal" family, which falls in general category and not in scheduled caste. Merely because her husband is belonging to a scheduled caste category, the Appellant should not have been issued with a caste certificate showing her caste as scheduled caste. In that regard, the orders of the authorities as well as the judgment of the High Court cannot be faulted.

The Appellant has already served as a Teacher and Vice-Principal of Kendriya Vidyalaya without any black spot in her service career for about 21 years, and that she is going to retire shortly. Supreme Court by exercising jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India ordered to convert the order of termination to an order of compulsory retirement. While exercising leniency, it has to be kept in mind that, the Appellant has neither played fraud nor misrepresented before any of the authorities for getting the caste certificate and while continuing in service based on the caste certificate. No questions were raised against her till the complaint in question came to be lodged, even when the authorities had seen the High School Certificate, Marks Sheet etc. showing her caste as Agarwal at the initial stage. The impugned judgment of the High Court is modified. "The order of termination from service" passed against the Appellant shall be treated as "the order of compulsory retirement". However, Supreme Court made it clear that, present shall not be treated as a precedent in future. The appeal stands disposed off.


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