The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed an order passed by the Bombay High Court cancelling the caste certificate of Navneet Kaur Rana, an Independent Lok Sabha MP representing the Amravati constituency in Maharashtra, Live Law reported. Rana was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019.
On June 8, the Bombay High Court held that Rana got her caste certificate fraudulently by using fabricated documents. The judges said the 35-year-old MP wanted to avail benefits given to a candidate from the Scheduled Caste category as the Amravati seat is a reserved one.
The decision by a division bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and VG Bisht meant that Rana faced the prospect of losing her Lok Sabha seat, even though the verdict did not make any specific observations regarding that.
However, a Supreme Court vacation bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari stayed the order. The bench also issued a notice in a petition filed by Rana challenging the verdict.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Rana, told the court that the terms “Mochi” and “Chamaar” are synonymous.
He referred to the terms as Rana had said that she belonged to “Mochi” caste to obtain a Scheduled Caste certificate. The caste, however, is not in the list of Scheduled Castes recognised by the social justice ministry for the state of Maharashtra. “Chamaar”, on the other hand, is recognised.
Rohatgi argued that the petition filed by former MP and Shiv Sena leader Anandrao Adsul was against Rana’s candidature and it did not challenge genuineness of the caste certificate submitted by the Amravati MP. He claimed the High Court decision was erroneous as it entered into factual determination in a writ petition, ignoring several documents, Live Law reported.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioner, pointed out that the Caste Scrutiny Committee had found that the documents submitted by Rana were fabricated.
The court, however, asked Sibal if the High Court could make factual findings under Article 226 of the Constitution, which gives power to issue a writ. The Supreme Court said that the High Court should have remitted the matter for fresh consideration if it was dissatisfied with findings of the scrutiny committee.
The court asked Sibal to file a counter affidavit and stayed the High Court decision.