120 days to submit certificates not mandatory: HC

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Mumbai, Dec 24 (UNI) The Bombay High Court has held the period of 120 days, stipulated by amendments in Acts controlling various local self governments in the state for submitting Caste Validity Certificates as not mandatory, giving many corporators facing the axe a new lease of life, at least for a few more months.

The State government has amended Acts governing Zilla Parishads, Panchayat Samitis, Municipal Corporations, Councils, Village Panchayats and stipulated provision making it mandatory for all corporators, representing backward classes to submit Caste Validity Certificates within four months of declaration of results.

This has been done to ensure only genuine persons belonging to backward classes benefit from provisions of reservation and fraudsters or persons not belonging to backward classes did not grab benefit of reservation.

Scores of petitions were filed by corporators and members of local bodies, saying the amendment was violating constitutional mandate of reservation as it barred eligible persons too, only for delays on part of Caste Scrutiny Committees.

The petitioners contended that they were facing the axe only for delays at the level of Committees over which they had no control.

A division bench, comprising Justice S B Mhase and D G Karnik, in its recent judgement, has upheld this contention and ruled that the statutory period of 120 days, prescribed by state government to submit Caste Validity Certificates was not mandatory.

The court observed that penal consequences, stipulated in amendments, were not meant to operate against genuine persons, but, against imposters only and that period of 120 day for production of Caste Validity Certificates was merely procedural requirement.

Though the court found period of 120 days insufficient for submission of Validity Certificates it has not prescribed any period as sufficient and that renders the situation equally uncertain as was prevailing before the decision.

Ultimately, fate of petitioners before the high court will now be decided on individual merit as the court has placed all the petitions before regular benches.

UNI

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