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HC orders new committee to examine Ajit Jogi's caste status

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Press Trust of India Bilaspur
In a relief to former chief minister Ajit Jogi, the Chhattisgarh High Court today allowed his petition challengingthe recommendations of a high-powered panel that had rejected his claim of belonging to a tribal community.

The court also ordered constitution of a new high-powered caste scrutiny committee to examine Jogi's caste status.

On the basis of the earlier committee's observations, Jogi's Scheduled Tribe (ST) caste certificate had been cancelled by the Bilaspur district administration, following which he moved the high court.

Jogi has termed the HC order as a "victory of truth".

"Allowing Jogi's writ petition, a bench of Chief Justice T B Radhakrishnan and Justice Sharad Kumar Gupta directed that a fresh high-powered caste scrutiny committee be set up to examine Jogi's caste status," Jogi's lawyer Shailendra Shukla said.

The high court allowed the petition on the ground that the previous committee was not constituted as per law, he said.

The committee, headed by IAS officer Reena Babasaheb Kangale,was formed by the state government on the Supreme Court's order to verify the authenticity of Jogi's tribal status.

The panel had last June rejected Jogi's claim that he belonged to tribal 'Kanwar' community and recommended cancellation of his ST certificate. The Bilaspur district administration then cancelled Jogi's ST certificate.

On November 21 last, the division bench of Chief Justice T B Radhakrishnan and Justice Sharad Kumar Gupta had reserved its order on Jogi's petition after hearing it.

Jogi's caste status was challenged in court by senior BJP leader and incumbent chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribe (NCST) Nand Kumar Sai and another leader Sant Kumar Netam.

Jogi, a former Congress stalwart, served as the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh after it was carved out of Madhya Pradesh, i.e. from November 2000 to November 2003.

He had served as the Congress MLA from Marwahi seat, reserved for the ST category.

In 2016, he parted ways with the Congress and formed a new outfit---the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh.

"The HC decision came as a good sign for me at a time when Assembly elections are slated later this year. Today, on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi ji, the truth has emerged victorious," Jogi told reporters.

He said the court decision once again proved that "conspiracy and lies are always defeated by truth".

Reacting to the HC order, Chief Minister Raman Singh said the government would follow the directions of the court.

The opposition Congress, however, has alleged a nexus between the BJP government and Jogi.

"Decision by Chhattisgarh HC on Ajit Jogi's caste identity Case is an indictment against the Chattisgarh government which does not even know that a constituted committee needs to be notified in the gazette. It is a hand in glove act of the Raman Singh government- that we have always suspected," Leader of Opposition T S Singhdeo tweeted.

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First Published: Jan 30 2018 | 10:50 PM IST

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