In a relief for Navneet Kaur Rana, first-time MP from Maharashtra’s Amaravati, the Supreme Court has stayed a High Court order cancelling her Scheduled Caste certificate.
A bench comprising Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari stayed the operation of the Bombay High Court order and issued notice on her petition against the HC order. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Rana, submitted that the terms Mochi and Chamar are synonymous, and the scrutiny committee had decided her caste status based on original records produced before it. He said the genuineness of the documents was not contested; however, the High Court reversed the scrutiny committee’s decision in a writ petition.
Rana had successfully contested the Amaravati Lok Sabha seat, reserved for Scheduled Castes. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioners who approached the High Court challenging Rana’s caste certificate, submitted before the bench that the vigilance committee had found that the documents were fabricated. Sibal said the stay cannot be granted without hearing him and cited the findings of the vigilance cell relating to fabrication of documents. The bench asked Sibal to file a counter-affidavit in the matter.
The bench noted that if the High Court was dissatisfied with the findings of the scrutiny committee, it should have sent the matter back to the committee for fresh consideration. After a brief hearing in the matter, the top court stayed the High Court order.
Rana had moved the top court challenging the High Court order, which cancelled her caste certificate saying it was obtained using fabricated documents. The MP would have lost her Lok Sabha seat if the court order was not put on hold.
On June 8, the High Court had also imposed a cost of Rs 2 lakh, which she was to deposit with the Maharashtra Legal Services Authority within two weeks.
“In our view, it was systematic fraud committed by the respondent no.3 (Rana) with the assistance of her father to obtain the caste certificate Mochi by fabricating the records to enable her to contest the election for Member of Parliament in the Constituency reserved for reserved category candidate and other benefits available to such caste under Constitution of India,” the High Court had said.