M. V. CHANDRAKANTH Versus SANGAPPA & ORS.

M. V. CHANDRAKANTH Versus SANGAPPA & ORS. 


Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
 CIVIL APPEAL NO. OF 2022
[ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (CIVIL) NO.7241 OF 2021]
M. V. CHANDRAKANTH ……Appellant
Versus
SANGAPPA & ORS. ….Respondents
 J U D G M E N T
Indira Banerjee, J.
Leave granted.
2. This appeal is against a judgment and final order dated 31st
March 2021 passed by a Division Bench of the High Court of
Karnataka (Dharwad Bench), allowing Writ Appeal No.100388 of
2017(GM-CC) filed by the Respondent No.1 and setting aside an order
dated 13th June 2017 passed by the Single Judge dismissing Writ
Petition No.1449 of 2006 (GM-CC) filed by the Respondent No.1
claiming the benefit of reservation for Other Backward Classes as a
member of the ‘Ganiga’ caste.
3. By a Government Order being G.O. No. SWD 150 BCA 94 dated
17th September 1994, the Government of Karnataka formulated a
Reservation Policy, for ‘Scheduled Castes’, ‘Scheduled Tribes’ and
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‘Other Backward Classes’ for admission to professional courses for
the year 1994-95, which is hereinafter referred to as the “Reservation
Policy”. As per the Reservation Policy the percentage of reservation
was as follows:-
“CATEGORY -I - 4%
 CATEGORY -II(A) - 15%
 CATEGORY -II(B) - 4%
 CATEGORY -III(A) - 5%
 CATEGORY -III(B) - 5%
 SCHEDULED CASTES - 15%
 SCHEDULED TRIBES - 3%”
4. By a Government Order being G.O. No. SWD 251 BCA 94 dated
31st January 1995, the Reservation Policy was made applicable to
employment under the State.
5. In 1999, the Appellant as well as the Respondent No.1 applied
for Group A and Group B posts of Gazetted Probationary Officers
claiming the benefit of reservation under Category II-A of the
Reservation Policy.
6. While the Appellant claimed reservation under Category II-A as
a ‘Kuruba’ by caste, the Respondent No.1 claimed Reservation as a
‘Hindu Ganiga’ by caste.
7. On or about 31st December 1999, a certificate was issued to the
Respondent No.1 from the office of the Tehsildar, Bagalkot certifying
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that the Respondent No.1 belonged to the Ganiga sub-caste. The
Respondent No.1 applied for the Group A and Group B posts of
Gazetted Probationary Officer, on the strength of the aforesaid
certificate.
8. On or about 30th March 2002, the Government of Karnataka
issued an order in terms whereof the Lingayat Ganiga was excluded
from the benefit of reservation to the ‘Ganiga’ sub-caste under
Category II-A, and placed under Category III-B.
9. On or about 7th October 2005, the Karnataka Public Service
Commission (KPSC) published the provisional list of candidates
selected for the Group A and Group B posts of Probationary Officers.
After publication of the provisional list on 7th October 2005, KPSC sent
the caste certificate of the Respondent No.1 to the Respondent No.3
for verification. On 21st October 2005, the Respondent No.3 issued a
certificate validating the caste certificate submitted by the
Respondent No.1.
10. KPSC notified the final list of selected candidates on 29th
November 2005. The Appellant was selected for the post of Deputy
Superintendent of Police and the Respondent No.1 was selected for
the post of Assistant Commissioner (Junior Grade Scale). Both the
Appellant and the Respondent No.1 were selected under the Reserved
Category II-A of the Reservation Policy. The Respondent No.1 secured
1152 marks and was placed at Sl. No. 15 in the category of posts of
Assistant Commissioner, whereas the Appellant secured 1151 marks
4
and was placed at Sl. No.6 in the category of posts of Deputy
Superintendent of Police.
11. The Appellant claims that in 2005, he came to know that the
Respondent No.1’s father belonged to the ‘Lingayat’ caste whereas
the Respondent No.1 had claimed the benefit of reservation under
Category II-A of the Reservation Policy claiming that he belonged to
the ‘Ganiga’ caste. The Appellant contends that the ‘Lingayat’ caste
including the sub-castes thereof fall under Category III-B with 5%
reservation whereas Hindu Ganiga falls under Category II-A with 15%
reservation.
12. The Appellant filed an appeal under Section 4D of the Karnataka
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes
(Reservation of Appointments, etc.) Act, 1990, hereinafter referred to
as “SC/ST and OBC Reservation Act” before the Respondent No.2
challenging the Caste Validity Certificate issued to the Respondent
No.1 by the Respondent No.3. In the said appeal, the Appellant
enclosed the school extract of Government Higher Primary School,
Honnihala, Bagalokote wherein the caste of the Respondent No.1’s
father was recorded as ‘Hindu Lingayat’.
13. The Appellant alleges that Respondent No.3 issued the
Validity Certificate dated 21st October 2005 in undue haste, with scant
regard to the procedure laid down in Rule 7 of the Karnataka
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes
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(Reservation of Appointment, etc.) Rules 1992, hereinafter referred to
as “Karnataka SC/ST and OBC Reservation Rules ”.
14. By an interim order dated 5th December 2005, the Respondent
No.2 stayed the Validity Certificate issued to the Respondent No.1
until further orders. Thereafter, the Respondent No.2 called for the
records from the Respondent No.1. Notices were also issued to the
Head Masters of the concerned schools for production of original
school admission registers pertaining to the Respondent No.1 and his
father.
15. After hearing the parties and perusing the records, the
Respondent No.2 passed an order dated 23rd January 2006,
concluding that the Respondent No.1 belonged to the ‘Hindu
Lingayat’ caste as he would inherit the caste of his father. Relying on
the school register of the Respondent No.1’s father of the year 1953,
his High School records and the Service Register of DCC Bank where
he (the Respondent No.1’s father) had worked as Supervisor, the
Respondent No.2 cancelled the Validity Certificate. The Respondent
No. 2 inferred that the entries in the school records of the Respondent
No.1 had been made in the year 1982, with a view to obtain the
benefit of reservation.
16. Being aggrieved, the Respondent No.1 filed the aforesaid writ
petition being Writ Petition No.1449 of 2006 (GM-CC) in the Karnataka
High Court at Dharwad on or about 27th January 2006 and obtained an
interim order of status quo. The Appellant filed a Counter Affidavit
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enclosing extract of the school records of the Respondent No.1’s
father showing that he belonged to the Hindu Lingayat caste.
17. On or about 1st February 2006, the Government issued
appointment orders of the selected candidates. The Appellant was
appointed as Deputy Superintendent of Police under II-A Category. On
13th February 2006, the Respondent No.2 directed the Civil Rights
Enforcement Cell to initiate prosecution against the Respondent No.1
under Rule 7A of the Karnataka SC/ST and OBC Reservation Rules for
having obtained false certificate under Category II-A.
18. On or about 21st June 2006, the Civil Rights Enforcement Cell,
after conducting an enquiry into the caste of the Respondent No.1,
submitted a report to the effect that the Respondent No.1 belonged to
the ‘Ganiga’ caste, and therefore no prosecution could be initiated
against him.
19. On 11th July 2007, the Respondent No. 1 was appointed to the
post of Assistant Commissioner. According to the Appellant, the
appointment was in violation of the status quo order granted by the
High Court in Writ Petition No.1449 of 2006. The Respondent No.2
filed a counter statement to the Writ Petition in the High Court of
Karnataka.
20. On or about 27th January 2009, the Government of Karnataka
issued an order, whereby 19 sub-castes within the ‘Veerashaiva
Lingayat’ caste were included in Category III-B of the Reservation
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Policy. The sub-castes included ‘Ganiga’ sub caste of the ‘Veerashaiva
Lingayat’ caste. As against 15% reserved for Category II-A, only 5%
of the posts were reserved for Category III-B.
21. By an order dated 28th February 2009, the Government of
Karnataka reverted the position of reservation of some of the subcastes of the Veerashaiva Lingayat caste except
‘Lingayath/Veerashaiva-Veerashaiva Panchamashali’ in Serial No.13 to
the position existing prior to the order dated 27th January 2009. The
sub-castes included the ‘Ganiga’ sub-caste of the Veerashaiva
Lingayat caste. The ‘Lingayat’ caste continued to remain in Category
III-B.
22. On 4th July 2013, the Appellant was promoted to the post of
Superintendent of Police (Non-IPS) based on Seniority-cum-Merit. On
24th March 2017, the Appellant was appointed to the Karnataka
Administrative Service (Junior Scale) with effect from 1st February
2006 by creation of supernumerary post by the State Government.
The State Government had placed the matter before the Cabinet and
the Cabinet took the decision to appoint the Appellant with
retrospective effect with effect from 1st February 2006 with all
consequential benefits in the cadre of Karnataka Administrative
Service (Junior Scale). The Appellant joined service in the cadre of
Karnataka Administrative Service (Junior Scale) on 30th March 2017.
23. By an order dated 13th June 2017, the Writ Petition filed by the
Respondent No.1 was dismissed by the Single Judge. The Single
8
Judge came to the conclusion that the Respondent No.1 belonged to
the Hindu Lingayat caste as his father’s school records reveal that his
father was a Lingayat or Lingavantha. The Single Bench found that
the caste ‘Ganiga’ was to be found both in Category II-A and III-B.
There was a lot of difference in the two entries. There was
reservation of 15% for persons in Category II-A but 5% for persons in
Category III-B. The Single Bench was of the view that the caste
‘Ganiga’ in Category II-A was not equivalent to Lingayat Ganiga subcaste of Lingayat.
24. Being aggrieved, the Respondent No.1 impugned the order of
dismissal by filing Writ Appeal No. 100388 of 2017 in the Division
Bench of the High Court.
25. By the impugned judgment and order dated 31st March 2021,
the Division Bench of Karnataka High Court (Dharwad Bench) allowed
the Writ Appeal filed by the Respondent No.1, set aside the order of
the Single Judge passed in Writ Petition No.1149 of 2006 and quashed
the order of Respondent No.2. In the meanwhile, on 20th September
2019, the Appellant was promoted to the Senior Scale in the
Karnataka Administrative Service.
26. The Division Bench observed that from the findings given by the
Single Judge, it was apparent that the Single Judge was also of the
opinion that caste of the Respondent No.1 was ‘Lingayat-Ganiga’.
The Single Judge, however, held that he could not claim reservation
under Category II-A. The Division Bench accepted that ordinarily
9
children belong to the caste of their father. The Division Bench,
however, observed, in effect, that the Single Judge also accepted that
the caste of the Respondent might be Lingayat-Ganiga but erred in
arriving at the finding Lingayat-Ganiga could not be construed Hindu
Ganiga.
27. The Division Bench referred to the judgments of Karnataka High
Court in Somashekhar Veerappa B. Murgod v. State of
Karnataka and Another
1 and Prabhushankar K.V. v. Selection
Committee for Medical Colleges & others
2
. In Somashekhar
Veerappa B. Murgod (supra), the Single Bench held:-
“6. The evidence recorded and the conclusion reached by the
Commission, in particular the underlined portions, clearly disclose
that in the State there is a community which is called ‘Kuruhina
Setty’. The hereditary avocation of this community is
‘neyge’(weaving). At some point of time in the past some of the
Kuruhina Settys adopted Veerashaiva or Lingayat faith. Among
Kuruhina Settys, there are both vegetarians and non-vegetarians
and those who have adopted Lingayat faith are vegetarians.
From the finding recorded by the Commission, it is clear that all
persons belonging to Kuruhina Setty community are considered as
backward irrespective of the fact that some of them are Lingayats
and others are not. The petitioner has claimed that he is a
Kuruhina Setty, though he is a Lingayat. He had also produced
certificate issued by the Tahasildar in which it is specifically stated
that the petitioner belongs to Kuruhina Setty Community. The
only reason given by the Selection Committee for rejecting the
claim of the petitioner is that in the transfer certificate produced
by the petitioner, the community of the petitioner is given as
Lingayat. Even the petitioner does not dispute that he is a
Lingayat. The fact that he is a Lingayat does not mean that he
does not belong to Kuruhina Setty community. As pointed out by
the commission, among persons belonging to Kuruhina Setty
community some have become Lingayats, but all of them are
considered and identified as belonging to backward community.
Therefore, a Kuruhina Setty who has become a Lingayat is not
disentitled to the benefit of reservation. In this behalf it is
necessary to set out the relevant portion in the appendix-1 to
Government Order No. ED 44 TGL 77, Bangalore, dated 18
th
 May,
1977, which sets out all the communities falling under the
1 AIR 1980 Karnataka 62
2 (1981) 1 Kant.L.J. 255
10
category of Neygi who are considered as Backward Community.
The relevant portion reads:
“(i) BACKWARD COMMUNITIES
XXX XXX XXX XXX
10. Neygi : Kuruhinasetti, Bilimagga, Thogata, Seniga,
Jamkhana, Ayiri, Avir, Sale, Padmasale, Saale, Kaikolan,
Neikar, Jadar, Jandra, Swakulasale.”
***
9. In the result, I hold that every person who belongs to
Kuruhina Setty community whether a Lingayat or not belongs
to Backward community for the purpose of the Government
Order, and can claim the benefit of special provisions subject to
the income test prescribed in the Government Order and,
therefore, the Selection Committee erred in rejecting the claim
of the petitioner for selection to 1
st
 Year M.B.B.S. Course as
against seats reserved for Backward Communities.”
28. In Prabhushankar v. Selection Committee for Medical
Colleges (supra), a Single Bench of Karnataka High Court held:-
“6. In my view there is nothing unnatural in the conduct of the
petitioner or his parents in not indicating that the petitioner apart
from being a Lingayat also belonged to Ganiga Community, as no
one knew at that stage that special provisions would be made in
their favour and omission to do so does not preclude the
petitioner from claiming the benefit of reservation if in truth the
petitioner belongs to Ganiga community as indicated in the
certificate issued by the Tahsildar who is the competent authority
to issue the necessary certificate.
7. In the face of the certificate issued by the Tahsildar, it was not
open for the Selection Committee to reject the claim of the
petitioner on the mere ground that in the transfer certificate the
community of the petitioner was shown as Lingayat as the
possibility of a Lingayat being a Ganiga could not be excluded.
Therefore in the absence of any other material evidence before
the Selection Committee on the basis of which it could have come
to the conclusion that the positioner did not belong to Ganiga
Community, the application could not have been rejected.
Therefore, the petitioner is entitled to the reconsideration of his
case.”
29. The Division Bench analysed the facts of the case but found
that reservation to backward classes had not been introduced when
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the Respondent No.1’s father had been admitted to school in 1953.
By the time the Appellant came to be admitted to school, Reservation
Policy for backward classes had been introduced. This could be the
reason why the caste was not entered in the school records of the
Respondent No.1’s father where only ‘Lingayat’ was mentioned but in
the case of the Respondent No.1 the caste was mentioned as ‘HinduGaniga’
30. The Division Bench rightly held that, if the Respondent No.1’s
father was, in fact, Ganiga, the mere fact that his caste may not have
been mentioned in his school records, or elsewhere, would not mean
that he would have to be treated as a non-Ganiga by caste. The
Division Bench referred to a report of the Karnataka Backward Classes
Commission constituted under the Chairmanship of L.J. Havanur and
in particular Paragraph 11 thereof which reads:-
“11. Veerashaivas (Lingayats) claim to belong to a religion of
their own, though legally they are considered as a Hindu
denomination. It originated by uniting certain caste-blocks, and
has grown by adding new ones which did not accept the principle
of status or rank ascribed by birth. The unit of endogamy
amongst veerashaivas in principle, is their denominational
community, but in the process of expanding itself into a still larger
community, it has allowed, perhaps, the new entrants to retain
their autonomy and identity. That appears to be the reason why
we find separate religious heads and monasteries of each section
widespread in the State. The cases of those caste-units who have
not yet been wholly assimilated into, or are half-way to, the
Veerashaiva community but who could be readily identified and
whose population could be ascertained have been considered
separately. Such cases include the Ganigas (oil pressers), the
Kumbaras (potters), the Kshowrikas (barbers), the Agasas
(washermen), some Neygis (weavers), etc."
31. It appears that the finding of the Single Bench that the earlier
notification in which Category II-A comprised many castes of which
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Ganiga was one, did not include Lingayat-Ganiga is misconceived. In
the Government notification issued on 3rd March 2002, Category II-A
comprised of Ganiga and other castes without referring to Lingayat
Ganigas. Subsequently, on 27th January 2009, an order was issued by
the Government of Karnataka to the effect that 19 sub-castes within
Veerashaiva Lingayat were included in Category III-B. One of the
castes so brought under Category III-B was Lingayat/VeerashaivaGaniga. Subsequently, however the Government issued a
Notification on 28th February 2009 to the effect that the caste in Serial
No.1 to 12 and 14 to 19 which were included in Category III-B as per
the order/notification dated 27th January 2009 were deleted from the
Category III-B and restored to the earlier position prevailing before
27th January 2009.
32. As observed by the Division Bench, the order dated 27th January
2009 shows that 19 sub-castes of Lingayat/Veerashaiva were included
in Category III-B. One of the sub-castes was ‘Lingayat/VeerashaivaGaniga’. However, by another notification issued within a month that
is 28th February 2009, the caste mentioned in Serial Nos. 1 to 12 and
14 to 19 Category III-B were deleted and the position prevailing before
27th January 2009 was restored. Lingayat/Veerashaiva-Ganiga was
deleted. The intent of the order was to extend the benefit of
reservation under Category II-A to the Lingayat-Ganigas also.
33. The Division Bench found that the finding of the Single Judge
that Hindu-Ganiga and Lingayat-Ganiga were two different castes was
13
not possible to accept. A Lingayat is also a Hindu governed by the
Hindu Succession Act 1956, the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, the Hindu
Minority and Guardianship Act 1956 and the Hindu Adoption and
Maintenance Act 1956. The caste of the Respondent No.1 was thus
shown as ‘Hindu-Lingayat’ in the school registers by the Respondent
No.1’s father.
34. The Division Bench was correct in its finding that, the mere fact
that the Caste Verification Committee gave a report of about 16
candidates in a few days cannot be a reason to doubt the correctness
of the report. The Division Bench found that the report was made in
accordance with the provisions of SC/ST and OBC Reservation Act.
35. Furthermore, during the pendency of the Writ Petition,
Respondent No.1 produced a registered document of the year 1909
where the caste of the great grandfather of the Respondent No.1 was
shown as ‘Ganiger’. The said document was taken on record by the
Writ Court, but there was no discussion about it in the impugned
order. The document is relevant in that it proves the caste of the
Respondent No.1 to be ‘Ganiga’. ‘Ganiger’ is a variant of the word
‘Ganiga’ found in north Karnataka region. Respondent No.1 had also
relied upon caste certificates issued to the relatives of the
Respondent No.1 showing their caste as ‘Ganiga’.
36. The Respondent No.1 also referred to an order of this Court in
Lawrence Salvador D’Souza v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.
(Civil Appeal No.6539/2016), where this Court directed the
14
Committee to consider the caste certificate of the niece of the
Appellant in that case for making a report about his caste. In this
case, the Appellant has produced a number of caste certificates of his
relatives indicating their caste as ‘Hindu-Ganiga’. After perusing the
documents produced, this Court held that since the caste of the
forefather of the Appellant was mentioned as ‘Ganiger’, an inference
may be drawn with the help of this document that the caste of the
Appellant was also ‘Ganiga’.
37. The decision of the Civil Enforcement Cell not to initiate the
prosecution may have been against the directions issued by the
Respondent No.2. The decision however, was justified, considering
the materials on record showing the caste of the forefather and
relatives of the Respondent No.1 as ‘Ganiger’ or ‘Ganiga’. Even if the
Caste Certificate and the Validity Certificate are ignored, there are
materials including a pre-constitution registered sale deed of the
Respondent No.1’s grandfather showing his caste was ‘Ganiga’.
38. In our considered opinion, the well reasoned judgment and
order of the Division Bench does not call for interference. Considering
that the disputes pertaining to the case of the Respondent No.1 has
been going on for years, the Division Bench rightly did not remand the
matter to the Respondent No.2 for adjudication. We find absolutely
no ground to interfere with the judgment. The appeal is, accordingly,
dismissed.
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.………………………………….J.
 [INDIRA BANERJEE]
.…………………………………..J.
 [J. K. MAHESHWARI]
NEW DELHI;
JULY 29, 2022

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