The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed an order of the Bombay High Court that ordered authorities to cancel and confiscate the caste certificate issued to Amravati member of Parliament Navneet Kaur Rana.
Rana, who was elected to the Lok Sabha as an Independent in 2019 from the reserved constituency of Amravati, had claimed to belong to “Mochi” scheduled caste. The high court earlier this month ruled that the certificate was “fraudulently obtained.
The top court’s order comes as a huge relief to the sitting MP who was on the verge of losing all benefits obtained on the strength of her caste certificate, including her election to the Lok Sabha.
Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Navneet Kaur Rana, told the court that the high court failed to consider vital documents produced in support of her caste identity based on pre-independence records.
A vacation bench of justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari issued notice on her plea and stayed the operation of the High Court order of June 8 till the next date of hearing on July 27.
Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who represented Shiv Sena leader and former MP Anandrao Adsul who had complained about Rana’s caste certificate, opposed the grant of stay.
But Sibal was told by the bench that the high court appeared to have erred.
“The high court records that the manner by which the caste scrutiny committee decided on the caste certificate of the petitioner (Rana) was not correct. It expressed dissatisfaction. Ideally, the high court should have sent the matter back for re-scrutiny by the Committee. Instead, the high Court goes into a fact-finding process which was not correct.”
Adsul and the Maharashtra government, which was not represented at Tuesday’s hearing, have been told to file their response by the next date of hearing.
The high court’s June 8 order said the lawmaker got the caste certificate validated from the caste scrutiny committee by producing fabricated and fraudulent documents, and reversed the November 2017 order of the Mumbai suburban district caste scrutiny committee which had found it in order.
The high court also cancelled the caste certificate issued in August 2013 by the then deputy collector of Mumbai recognizing Rana as scheduled caste and imposed a ₹2 lakh fine.
The high court had also pulled up the caste scrutiny committee for doing its job “sloppily” and noted its failure to execute statutory obligations required under the Caste Certificate Act.