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SC sets aside verdict cancelling caste certificate of MP Navnit Rana

The order came on the last day of filing nomination for the Amravati Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra from where Rana has been fielded as the BJP candidate

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

Press Trust of India New Delhi

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The Supreme Court on Thursday restored the caste certificate of Amravati MP and BJP leader Navneet Kaur Rana by setting aside the 2021 Bombay High Court verdict.

The order came on the last day of filing nomination for the Amravati Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra from where Rana has been fielded as the BJP candidate.

On June 8, 2021, the high court had said the 'mochi' caste certificate was obtained fraudulently using fabricated documents by Rana. It had also imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh on the Amravati MP, saying the records indicated that she belonged to the 'Sikh-Chamar' caste.

Allowing the appeal of Rana, now a BJP leader and an official candidate of the party to contest from Amravati parliamentary seat in Maharashtra, a bench comprising justices JK Maheshwari and Sanjay Karol said the high court should not have interfered with the report of the scrutiny committee on the issue of caste certificate of Rana.

Thursday is the last day for filing nomination papers for Amravati constituency that is reserved for scheduled castes.

Upholding the validity of the caste certificate issued to Rana, the top court said, "In the instant case, the scrutiny committee duly considered the documents before it and passed its decision complying with principles of natural justice.

"It did not merit any interference (by the Bombay High Court) under Article 226. In light of the discussions, the instant appeal stands allowed and the high court order is set aside," Judge Maheshwari said while pronouncing the operative part of the judgement. It restored the caste validation order of the scrutiny committee.

The detailed judgement is awaited.

Rana, who had won the reserved Amravati parliamentary seat as an independent candidate in 2019, has recently joined the BJP and is all set to contest from the same constituency.

She was backed by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in 2019 and had claimed that she was a member of the 'Mochi' caste

The top court, on February 28, reserved its verdict on the plea of Rana against the high court verdict cancelling her caste certificate.

The top court had earlier stayed the high court verdict cancelling Rana's caste certificate.

A division bench of the high court had asked Rana to surrender the certificate within six weeks and asked her to pay the penalty of Rs 2 lakh to the Maharashtra Legal Services Authority.

The high court had held that Rana's claim of belonging to the 'Mochi' caste for obtaining the Scheduled Caste certificate itself was fraudulent and made with the intention of obtaining various benefits available to a candidate from such a category despite knowing she does not belong to that caste.

"The application (for caste certificate) was made intentionally to make a fraudulent claim to enable the respondent no.3 (Rana) to contest the election for the post of Member of Parliament on a seat reserved for a Scheduled Castes candidate," the high court had said in its judgment.

The high court had passed the order on a plea seeking cancellation of the caste certificate dated August 30, 2013 issued by the Mumbai deputy collector, identifying Rana as a member of the 'Mochi' caste.

Shiv Sena leader Anandrao Adsul had filed a complaint with the Mumbai District Caste Certificate Scrutiny Committee, which ruled in Rana's favour and validated the certificate. He then approached the high court.

He had contended that Rana obtained the certificate using forged and fabricated documents. It was obtained by using the influence of Navneet Rana's husband Ravi Rana, who was a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, he alleged.

The high court had held that the order passed by the Scrutiny Committee was totally perverse, without the application of mind, and contrary to the evidence on record.

The bench had noted that the original birth certificate of Rana did not mention the caste 'Mochi'.

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First Published: Apr 04 2024 | 1:30 PM IST

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