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Saturday, November 23, 2013

MAHARASHTRA SCHEDULED CASTES, SCHEDULED TRIBES, DE-NOTIFIED TRIBES, (VIMUKTA JATIS), NOMADIC TRIBES, OTHER BACKWARD CATEGORY (REGULATION OF ISSUANCE AND VERIFICATION OF) CASTE CERTIFICATE ACT, 2000: = a third party can not challenge caste certificate issued and approved long back itself to wreck his vengeance = Ayaaubkhan Noorkhan Pathan … Appellant Versus The State of Maharashtra & Ors. … Respondents = published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/helddis.aspx

MAHARASHTRA SCHEDULED CASTES, SCHEDULED TRIBES, DE-NOTIFIED TRIBES,
(VIMUKTA JATIS), NOMADIC TRIBES, OTHER BACKWARD CATEGORY (REGULATION OF
ISSUANCE AND VERIFICATION OF) CASTE CERTIFICATE ACT, 2000:

Caste certificate - Appellant given employment on the basis of a caste
certificate showing that he belonged to Bhil Tadvi (Scheduled Tribe) -
Validity certificate issued by Caste Scrutinity Committee - Complaint by
respondent no. 5 that appellant obtained employment by misrepresentation -
High Court, in writ petition, directing Scrutinity Committee to hold de
novo inquiry with respect to appellant's caste certificate - Held: Caste
certificates issued by holding proper enquiry, in accordance with duly
prescribed procedure, would not require any further verification by the
Scrutiny Committee - However, in the instant case, considering the
seriousness of the allegations, as the Scrutiny Committee has already
conducted an inquiry and the only grievance of the appellant is that there
has been non-compliance with the principles of natural justice, it is
directed that before the submission of any report by the Scrutiny
Committee, application of appellant for calling the witnesses for cross-
examination must be disposed of, and he must be given a fair opportunity to
cross-examine the witnesses, who have been examined before the Committee -
Further, as respondent no. 5 has not been pursuing the matter in a bonafide
manner, and has not raised any public interest, rather he abused the
process of the court only to harass the appellant, he is restrained from
intervening in the matter any further, and also from remaining a party to
it, and he is also liable to pay costs to the tune of  Rs. one lakh -
Evidence Act, 1872 - s.114, I11(e) - Maxim "Omnia praesumuntur rite esse
acta".

CONSTITUTION OF INDIA, 1950:

Art. 226 - Writ petition in public interest - Maintainaility of - Held:
There must be a judicially enforceable right available for enforcement, on
the basis of which writ jurisdiction is resorted to - The legal right that
can be enforced must ordinarily be the right of the petitioner himself, who
complains of infraction of such right and approaches the court  - Whenever
any public interest is invoked, the court must examine the case to ensure
that there is, in fact, genuine public interest involved - Court must
maintain strict vigilance to ensure that there is no abuse of the process
of court - Supreme Court has consistently held that filing of public
interest litigation is not permissible so far as service matters are
concerned - In the instant case, respondent no.5 does not belong to
Scheduled Tribes category, but he has been pursuing the matter from one
court to another - His conduct is found to be reprehensible, and without
any sense of responsibility -  Therefore, the Court is highly doubtful as
regards his bonafides -  He has, therefore, disentitled himself from
appearing  before any court, or Committee, so far as the instant matter is
concerned - Locus standi - Party - "Person aggrieved"- Public interest
litigation - Service law.

EVIDENCE ACT, 1872:

s.3 - `Evidence' - Affidavit - Held: An affidavit is not evidence within
the meaning of s. 3 and the same can be used as "evidence" only if, for
sufficient reasons, court passes an order under O. 19 CPC - Thus, the
filing of an affidavit of one's own statement, in one's own favour, cannot
be regarded as sufficient evidence for any court or tribunal, on the basis
of which it can come to a conclusion as regards a particular fact-situation
- Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 - O.19 and O. 18, rr. 4 and 5 - Affidavits.

NATURAL JUSTICE:

Cross-examination - Held: Is part of principles of natural justice -  Not
only should  the opportunity of cross-examination be made available, but it
should be one of effective cross-examination, so as to meet the requirement
of principles of natural justice.

The appellant was appointed in 1990 as a Senior Clerk in the Municipal
Corporation against the vacancy reserved for Scheduled Tribes, on the basis
of a caste certificate issued by the competent authority in his favour that
he belonged to Bhil Tadvi (Scheduled Tribe).  The sad caste certificate was
referred to the Caste Certificate Scrutiny Committee, which issued a
validity certificate stating that the appellant belonged to Bhil Tadvi
(Scheduled Tribe).  In 2009, respondent no. 5 filed a complaint before the
Scrutiny Committee for recalling the  validity certificate on the ground
that the appellant professed the religion of Islam and, as such, he could
not be a Scheduled Tribe  and he obtained the employment by way of
misrepresentation.  The Scrutiny Committee rejected the application by
order dated 13.3.2009 observing that it had no power to recall or review a
caste validity certificate.  Respondent no. 5 filed a writ petition before
the High Court seeking to quash the order dated 13.3.2009 and to direct the
Scrutiny Committee to hold de novo inquiry with respect to appellant's
caste certificate.  The High Court set aside the order dated 13.3.2009
passed by Scrutiny Committee and remitted the matter to it.

In the instant appeal, it was contended for the appellant that respondent
no. 5, being member of General category, had no locus to challenge
appellant's caste certificate and, therefore, the High Court erred in
directing the Scrutiny Committee to entertain the complaint of respondent
no. 5; that despite the directions given by the Supreme Court, the Scrutiny
Committee failed to comply with the principles of natural justice, as the
appellant was denied the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses and no
order was passed on his application for recalling the witnesses for the
purpose of cross-examination.

   Disposing of the appeal, the Court


HELD:

`Person aggrieved:'

1.1 A writ petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution is maintainable
either for the purpose of enforcing a statutory or legal right, or when
there is a complaint by the petitioner that there has been a breach of
statutory duty on the part of the Authorities.  Therefore, there must be a
judicially enforceable right available for enforcement, on the basis of
which writ jurisdiction is resorted to. Court can of course, enforce the
performance of a statutory duty by a public body, using its writ
jurisdiction at the behest of a person, provided that such person satisfies
the court that he has a legal right to insist on such performance. The
existence of such right is a condition precedent for invoking the writ
jurisdiction of the courts. It is implicit in the exercise of such
extraordinary jurisdiction that the relief prayed for must be one to
enforce a legal right. Infact, the existence of such right is the
foundation of the exercise of the said jurisdiction by the court. The legal
right that can be enforced must ordinarily be the right of the petitioner
himself, who complains of infraction of such right and approaches the court
for relief as regards the same. [para 7]

State of Orissa v. Madan Gopal Rungta, 1952  SCR  28 = AIR 1952 SC 12;
Saghir Ahmad & Anr. v. State of U.P., 1955  SCR  707 = AIR 1954 SC 728;
Calcutta Gas Company (Proprietary) Ltd. v. State of West Bengal & Ors.,
1962  Suppl.  SCR  1 = AIR 1962 SC 1044; Rajendra Singh v. State of Madhya
Pradesh, 1996 ( 4 )  Suppl.  SCR  393 = AIR 1996 SC 2736; and Tamilnad
Mercantile Bank Shareholders Welfare Association (2) v. S.C. Sekar & Ors.,
2008 (17 )  SCR 85  = (2009) 2 SCC 784 - referred to.

1.2 The expression, "person aggrieved" does not include a person who
suffers from a psychological or an imaginary injury; a person aggrieved
must, therefore, necessarily be one, whose right or interest has been
adversely affected or jeopardised. It is a settled legal proposition
that a stranger cannot be permitted to meddle in any proceeding, unless he
satisfies the Authority/Court that he falls within the category of
aggrieved persons. Only a person who has suffered, or suffers from legal
injury can challenge the act/action/order etc. in a court of law.
[para 7-8]

Shanti Kumar R. Chanji v. Home Insurance Co. of New York, 1975 ( 1 ) SCR
550 =AIR 1974 SC 1719; and State of Rajasthan & Ors. v. Union of India &
Ors., 1978 ( 1 )  SCR  1 = AIR 1977 SC 1361; Anand Sharadchandra Oka v.
University of Mumbai, 2008 (2 )  SCR 297  = AIR 2008 SC 1289; Subhash Babu
v. State of A. P. 2011 (9 )  SCR 453  =AIR 2011 SC 3031; Charanjit Lal
Chowdhury v. The Union of India & Ors., 1950 SCR 869 =AIR 1951 SC 41; Sunil
Batra (II) v. Delhi Administration, 1980 ( 2 )  SCR  557 = AIR 1980 SC
1579; Mrs. Neelima Priyadarshini v. State of Bihar, AIR 1987 SC 2021;
Simranjit Singh Mann v. Union of India, 1992  Suppl.  SCR  592 =  AIR 1993
SC 280; Karamjeet Singh v. Union of India, 1992 ( 1 )  Suppl.  SCR  898 =
AIR 1993 SC 284; and Kishore Samrite v. State of U.P. & Ors., JT (2012) 10
SC 393 - referred to.

1.3 Whenever any public interest is invoked, the court must examine the
case to ensure that there is, in fact, genuine public interest involved.
The court must maintain strict vigilance to ensure that there is no abuse
of the process of court, and should make an earnest endeavour to take up
those cases, where the subjective purpose of the lis justifies the need for
it. Even as regards the filing of a public interest litigation, this Court
has consistently held that such a course of action is not permissible so
far as service matters are concerned. In view of the decisions of the
Court, the law on the point can be summarised to the effect that a person
who raises a grievance, must show how he has suffered legal injury.
Generally, a stranger having no right whatsoever to any post or property,
cannot be permitted to intervene in the affairs of others. [para 12-13
and 15]

P.S.R. Sadhanantham v. Arunachalam & Anr., 2009 (16) SCR 111 = AIR 1980 SC
856; Dalip Singh v. State of U.P. & Ors., 2011 (6) SCR 403 = (2010) 2 SCC
114; State of Uttaranchal v. Balwant Singh Chaufal & Ors., 2010 (1) SCR 678
=  (2010) 3 SCC 402; Amar Singh v. Union of India & Ors. 2011 (6) SCR 403 =
(2011) 7 SCC 69; Dr. Duryodhan Sahu & Ors. v. Jitendra Kumar Mishra & Ors.,
1998 (1) Suppl.  SCR 77 = AIR 1999 SC 114; Dattaraj Natthuji Thaware v.
State of Maharashtra, 2004 (6) Suppl.  SCR 900 = AIR 2005 SC 540; Neetu v.
State of Punjab & Ors., 2007 (1) SCR 223 = AIR 2007 SC 758; and Ghulam
Qadir v. Special Tribunal & Ors., 2001 (3) Suppl.  SCR 504 = (2002) 1 SCC
33 - referred to.

Locus standi:

2.1 It is evident that under ordinary circumstances, a third person,
having no concern with the case at hand, cannot claim to have any locus-
standi to raise any grievance whatsoever.  However, in the exceptional
circumstances if the actual persons aggrieved, because of ignorance,
illiteracy, inarticulation or poverty, are unable to approach the court,
and a public spirited person approaches the court, then the court may
examine the issue and even if  his bonafides are doubted, but the issue
raised by him, in the opinion of the court, requires consideration,  the
court may proceed suo-motu, in such respect. [para 22]

Vinoy Kumar v. State of U.P., 2001 ( 2 )  SCR 1196 = AIR 2001 SC 1739;
Ravi Yashwant Bhoir v. District Collector, Raigad & Ors., (2012) 4 SCC 407;
K. Manjusree v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr., 2008 (2 )  SCR 1025 =
(2008) 3 SCC 512 - relied on

Balbir Kaur & Anr. v. Uttar Pradesh Secondary Education Services Selection
Board, Allahabad & Ors., 2008 (9)  SCR 130  = (2008) 12 SCC 1; Raju
Ramsingh Vasave v. Mahesh Deorao Bhiavapurkar & Ors., 2008 (12 )  SCR 992
= (2008) 9 SCC 54; and Manohar Joshi v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., (2012)
3 SCC 619 - referred to.

2.2 In the instant case, as respondent no.5 does not belong to the
Scheduled Tribes category, the garb adopted by him, of serving the cause of
Scheduled Tribes candidates who might have been deprived of their
legitimate right to be considered for the post, must be considered in order
to determine whether he is, in fact, in a legitimate position to lay any
claim before any forum, whatsoever. The conduct of respondent no. 5, who
has been pursuing the said matter from one court to another, is found to be
reprehensible, and without any sense of responsibility as he could not
submit any satisfactory response to the directions issued by this Court on
29.10.2012.  Therefore, this Court is highly doubtful as regards his
bonafides.  He has, therefore, disentitled himself from appearing either
before this Court, or any other court, or Committee, so far as the instant
case is concerned.  [para 16 and 44]

Cross-examination as part of the principles of natural justice:

3.1 A Constitution Bench of this Court in Chintaman Sadashiva
Vaishampayan's case, held that the rules of natural justice, require that a
party must be given the opportunity to adduce all relevant evidence upon
which he relies and further that the evidence of the opposite party should
be taken in his presence, and that he should be given the opportunity of
cross-examining the witnesses examined by that party. Not providing the
said opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, would violate the principles
of natural justice. This Court is of the considered opinion that the right
of cross-examination is an integral part of the principles of natural
justice. [para 23 and 25]

State of M.P. v. Chintaman Sadashiva Vaishampayan, AIR 1961 SC 1623; Union
of India v. T.R. Varma, 1958 SCR 499 = AIR 1957 SC 882; Meenglas Tea Estate
v. Workmen, 1964 SCR  165 = AIR 1963 SC 1719; M/s. Kesoram Cotton Mills
Ltd. v. Gangadhar & Ors., 1964  SCR  809 = AIR 1964 SC 708; New India
Assurance Company Ltd . v . Nusli Neville Wadia and Anr., 2007 (13)  SCR
598 = AIR 2008 SC 876; Rachpal Singh & Ors. v. Gurmit Singh & Ors., AIR
2009 SC 2448; Biecco Lawrie & Anr. v. State of West Bengal & Anr., 2009
(11)  SCR 972  = AIR 2010 SC 142; State of Uttar Pradesh v. Saroj Kumar
Sinha, 2010 (2)  SCR 326  =  AIR 2010  SC 3131; and Lakshman Exports Ltd.
v. Collector of Central Excise (2005) 10 SCC 634 - relied on

K.L. Tripathi v. State Bank of India & Ors., AIR 1984 SC 273; Union of
India v. P.K. Roy AIR 1968 SC 850; and Channabasappa Basappa Happali v.
State of Mysore, AIR 1972 SC 32; Transmission Corpn. of A.P. Ltd. v. Sri
Rama Krishna Rice Mill,  AIR 2006 SC 1445 ; Rajiv Arora v. Union of India &
Ors., AIR 2009 SC 1100 - referred to.

3.2 In the instant case, the appellant raised the grievance that, the
evidence of a large number of persons had been recorded by the Scrutiny
Committee behind his back, and that he had not been given an opportunity to
cross-examine the witnesses that were examined by the other side and,
therefore, he was unable to lead a proper defence.  He filed an application
for the purpose of recalling 3 witnesses named therein so that he may
cross-examine them.  He also filed another application on the same day,
seeking a period of 30 days time, to file his reply as is required within
the provisions of r.12(8) of the Rules 2003, and yet another application
for the purpose of calling of records from the office of the Tehsildar, to
ascertain the genuineness of the certificate impugned.  None of the said
applications have been decided. In pursuance of the order of this
Court, the original record was produced, but it does not indicate that the
appellant was, in fact, given an opportunity to cross-examine the
witnesses, or that all the said witnesses were examined in the presence of
the appellant.   [para 40 and 42]

Affidavit - whether evidence within the meaning of Section 3 of the
Evidence Act, 1872:

4.1 It is a settled legal proposition that an affidavit is not evidence
within the meaning of s. 3 of the Evidence Act, 1872.  Affidavits are,
therefore, not included within the purview of the definition of "evidence"
as has been given in s.3 of the Evidence Act, and the same can be used as
"evidence" only if, for sufficient reasons, the court passes an order under
Order XIX of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Thus, the filing of an
affidavit of one's own statement, in one's own favour, cannot be regarded
as sufficient evidence for any court or tribunal, on the basis of which it
can come to a conclusion as regards a particular fact-situation.
[para 31]

Sudha Devi v. M.P. Narayanan & Ors., 1988 ( 3)  SCR  756 = AIR 1988 SC
1381; and Range Forest Officer  v. S.T. Hadimani, 2002 (1) SCR 1080 = AIR
2002 SC 1147;  M/s Bareilly Electricity Supply Co. Ltd. v. The Workmen &
Ors., 1972 (1) SCR 241 = AIR 1972 SC 330; Needle Industries (India) Ltd. &
Ors. v. N.I.N.I.H. Ltd. & Ors., 1981 (3)  SCR 698  = AIR 1981 SC 1298;
Ramesh Kumar v. Kesho Ram, AIR 1992 SC 700; Standard Chartered Bank v.
Andhra Bank Financial Services Ltd. & Ors., 2006 (2)  Suppl.  SCR 1 =
(2006) 6 SCC 94 - referred to

4.2 However, in a case where the deponent is available for cross-
examination, and opportunity is given to the other side to cross-examine
him, the affidavit can be relied upon.  Such view stands fully affirmed
particularly, in view of the amended provisions of Order XVIII, Rules 4 and
5 CPC. In certain other circumstances, in order to avoid technicalities of
procedure, the legislature, or a court/tribunal, can even lay down a
procedure to meet the requirement of compliance with the principles of
natural justice and, thus, the case will be examined in the light of those
statutory rules etc.   [para 36]

5.1 It is evident from the judgment in Daya Ram, that the purpose of
issuing directions in Km. Madhuri Patil, was only to examine those cases,
where caste certificates had been issued without conducting any prior
enquiry, on the basis of self- affidavits regarding one's caste alone, and
that the said directions were not at all applicable where a legislation
governing or regulating the grant of caste certificates exists, and where
caste certificates are issued after due and proper enquiry.  Caste
certificates issued by holding proper enquiry, in accordance with duly
prescribed procedure, would not require any further verification by the
scrutiny committee. [para 39]

Km. Madhuri Patil v. Addl. Commissioner, Tribal Development, 1994 (3)
Suppl.  SCR 50 =   (1994) 6 SCC 241; and  Daya Ram v. Sudhir Batham & Ors.,
(2012) 1 SCC 333 - referred to.

5.2 In the instant case, the Scrutiny Committee in ordinary
circumstances examined the matter and after investigation through its
Vigilance Cell and considering all the documentary evidence on record and
after being satisfied, granted the caste verification certificate in 2000.
Section 114 Ill.(e) of the Evidence Act provided for the court to pronounce
that the decision taken by the Scrutiny Committee has been done in regular
course and the caste certificate has been issued after due verification.
Such a presumption is based on legal maxim "Omnia praesumuntur rite esse
acta" i.e. all acts are presumed to have rightly and regularly been done,
and it can be rebutted by adducing appropriate evidence. Mere statement
made in the written statement/petition is not enough to rebut the
presumption. The onus of rebuttal lies upon the person who alleges that the
act had not been regularly performed or the procedure required under the
law had not been followed. A very strong material/evidence is required to
rebut the presumption. Once respondent no. 5 had challenged the caste
certificate, he must have acted seriously and brought the material before
the Scrutiny Committee to show that the earlier decision was improbable or
factually incorrect.   [para 45]

Gopal Narain v. State of U.P. & Anr., 1964 SCR 869 = AIR 1964 SC 370;
Narayan Govind Gavate & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., 1977 (1) SCR
763 =AIR 1977 SC 183; Karewwa & Ors.v. Hussensab Khansaheb Wajantri & Ors.,
AIR 2002 SC 504; Engineering Kamgar Union v. Electro Steels  Castings Ltd.
& Anr., 2004 (1)  Suppl.  SCR 301 = (2004) 6 SCC 36; Mohd. Shahabuddin v.
State of Bihar, 2010 (3) SCR 911 = (2010) 4 SCC 653; Punjab State
Electricity Board & Anr. v. Ashwani Kumar, 2010 (7) SCR 1158 = (2010) 7 SCC
569; M. Chandra v. M. Thangmuthu & Anr., AIR 2010 (11)  SCR 38  = 2011 SC
146; and R. Ramachandran Nair v. Deputy Superintendent, Vigilance Police
2011 (3)  SCR 1054 = (2011) 4 SCC 395 - referred to.

5.3 Considering the seriousness of the allegations, as the Scrutiny
Committee has already conducted an inquiry in relation to this matter, and
the only grievance of the appellant is that there has been non-compliance
with the principles of natural justice, and the fact that the applications
filed by him, were not decided upon, it is directed that before the
submission of any report by the Scrutiny Committee, the application filed
by the appellant for calling the witnesses for cross-examination must be
disposed of, and he must be given a fair opportunity to cross-examine the
witnesses, who have been examined before the Committee.  The Scrutiny
Committee is further directed to pass appropriate orders in accordance with
the law thereafter.  In case, the Scrutiny Committee has already taken a
decision, the same being violative of the principles of natural justice,
would stand vitiated.   [para 46]

5.4 However, considering the fact that respondent no. 5 has not been
pursuing the matter in a bonafide manner, and has not raised any public
interest, rather he abused the process of the court only to harass the
appellant, he is restrained from intervening in the matter any further, and
also from remaining a party to it, and he is also liable to pay costs to
the tune of  Rs. one lakh, to the District Collector, who would deposit the
said amount in the account of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.
[para 47]

Case Law Reference

1952 SCR 28 referred to para 7
1955 SCR 707 referred to para 7
1962  Suppl.  SCR 1 referred to para 7
1996 (4)  Suppl.  SCR 393 referred to para 7
2008 (17) SCR 85   referred to para 7
1975 (1) SCR 550 referred to
para 8
1978 (1) SCR 1 referred to para 8
2008 (2) SCR 297 referred to
para 9
2011 (9) SCR 453   referred to para 10
1950 SCR 869 referred to para 11
1980 (2) SCR 557 referred to
para 11
AIR 1987 SC 2021 referred to
para 11
1992 Suppl.  SCR  592 referred to
para 11
1992 (1)  Suppl.  SCR 898 referred to para 11
2012 (10) JT 393 referred to
para 11
AIR 1980 SC 856 referred to para 12
2009 (16) SCR 111   referred to para 12
2010 (1) SCR 678   referred to para 12
2011 (6) SCR 403   referred to para 12
1998 (1) Suppl.  SCR 77 referred to para 13
2004 (6) Suppl.  SCR 900   referred to para 13
2007 (1) SCR 223   referred to para 13
2001 (3)  Suppl.  SCR 504 referred to para 14
(2012) 4 SCC 407 referred to
para 16
2008 (2) SCR 1025 relied on para 18
2008 (9) SCR 130   referred to para 19
2008 (12) SCR 992   referred to para 20
(2012) 3 SCC 619 referred to
para 20
2001 (2) SCR 1196 relied on para 21
AIR 1961 SC 1623 relied on
para 23
1958 SCR 499 relied on para 23
1964 SCR 809 relied on para 23
1964 SCR 165 relied on para 23
2009 AIR 2448 relied on para 23
2009 (11) SCR 972   relied on para23
2010 (2) SCR 326   relied on para 23
2005 (10) SCC 634 relied on para 24
2007 (13) SCR 598   relied on para 25
AIR 1984 SC 273 referred to para 26
AIR 1968 SC 850 referred to para 26
AIR 1972 SC 32 referred to para 26
AIR 2006 SC 1445 referred to para 27
AIR 2009 SC 1100 referred to para 29
1988 (3) SCR 756 referred to para 31
2002 (1) SCR 1080 referred to para 31
1972 (1) SCR 241 referred to para 32
1981 (3) SCR 698   referred to para 33
1992 AIR 700 referred to para 34
2006 (2) Suppl.  SCR 1   referred to para 35
1994 (3)  Suppl.  SCR 50 referred to para 37
(2012) 1 SCC 333 referred to para 38
1964 SCR 869 referred to para 45
1977 (1) SCR 763 referred to para 45
2002 AIR 504 referred to para 45
2004 (1) Suppl.  SCR 301   referred to para 45
2010 (3) SCR 911   referred to para 45
2010 (7) SCR 1158 referred to para 45
2010 (11) SCR 38   referred to para 45
2011 (3) SCR 1054 referred to para 45

                                                               REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREMECOURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7728  OF 2012




      Ayaaubkhan Noorkhan Pathan                   … Appellant


                                   Versus


      The State of Maharashtra & Ors.              … Respondents






                               J U D G M E N T


      DR. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.:




      1.    This appeal has been preferred against the impugned judgment and
      order dated 22.9.2009, passed by the High Court of Bombay  (Aurangabad
      Bench) in Writ Petition No.3129 of 2009,  filed  by  respondent  no.5,
      challenging the caste certificate of the appellant.


      2.    The facts and circumstances giving rise to this  appeal  are  as
      follows:
      A.    The competent authority in the  present  case,  issued  a  caste
      certificate dated 19.10.1989, after following due procedure, in favour
      of the appellant stating that he does in fact, belong  to  Bhil  Tadvi
      (Scheduled Tribes).   On  the  basis  of  the  said  certificate,  the
      appellant was appointed as Senior Clerk in the  Municipal  Corporation
      of Aurangabad (hereinafter  referred  to  as  the,  ‘Corporation’)  on
      6.2.1990, against the vacancy reserved for persons under the Scheduled
      Tribes category.  The Corporation referred the  caste  certificate  of
      the  appellant  for  the  purpose  of  verification,  to   the   Caste
      Certificate  Scrutiny  Committee  (hereinafter  referred  to  as  the,
      “Scrutiny Committee”).  The Vigilance Cell attached  to  the  Scrutiny
      Committee,  upon  conducting  vigilance  enquiry,  vide  order   dated
      29.12.1998, found that the appellant did,  in  fact,  belong  to  Bhil
      Tadvi (Scheduled Tribes) and thus, the said certificate was  verified.
      The Scrutiny Committee, on the basis of the said report and also other
      documents filed by the appellant in support  of  his  case,  issued  a
      validity certificate, dated 23.5.2000 to the  appellant  belonging  to
      Bhil Tadvi (Scheduled Tribes). After the lapse of a period of 9 years,
      respondent no.5 filed complaint dated 9.1.2009,  through  an  advocate
      before the Scrutiny Committee, for the purpose of recalling  the  said
      validity certificate, on the ground that the  appellant  had  obtained
      employment by way of misrepresentation, and that he does not  actually
      belong to the Scheduled  Tribes  category.   In  fact,  the  appellant
      professed the  religion  of  Islam  and  therefore,  could  not  be  a
      Scheduled Tribe.


      B.    The Scrutiny Committee rejected the said application vide  order
      dated 13.3.2009, observing that it had no power to recall or to review
      a caste validity certificate, as there is no statutory provision  that
      provides for the same.


      C.    Aggrieved, respondent no.5 challenged the order dated 13.3.2009,
      by filing Writ Petition No.3129 of  2009  before  the  High  Court  of
      Bombay (Aurangabad Bench), praying for quashing  of  the  order  dated
      13.3.2009, and directing  the  Scrutiny  Committee  to  hold  de  novo
      enquiry, with  respect  to  the  appellant’s  caste  certificate.  The
      appellant contested the said petition,  denying  all  the  allegations
      made by respondent no.5.  Vide its impugned judgment and  order  dated
      22.9.2009, the High Court disposed of the said writ  petition  without
      going into the merits of the case. However, while doing so,  the  High
      Court set aside the order dated 13.3.2009, and remitted the matter  to
      the Scrutiny Committee, directing it to hear all the parties concerned
      in accordance with law, as regards the allegations made by  respondent
      no.5 in the complaint.  It further directed the  Committee  to  decide
      the said matter within a period of 6 months.
           Hence, this present appeal.


      3.    Before proceeding further, it may also be pertinent to refer  to
      certain subsequent developments.
           During the pendency of this appeal, this Court vide order  dated
      20.11.2009, granted a stay  with  respect  to  the  operation  of  the
      aforementioned impugned judgment.  Vide order dated 6.1.2012, the said
      interim order was modified, to the extent that the Scrutiny  Committee
      would re-examine the  case  on  merit,  without  being  influenced  by
      earlier proceedings before it, and by giving adequate  opportunity  to
      the parties to lead evidence in  support  of  their  respective  cases
      after which, the Scrutiny Committee would submit its  report  to  this
      Court within a period of 3 months.


      4.    Shri A.V. Savant, learned  Senior  counsel,  appearing  for  the
      appellant has submitted that respondent no.5 does not  belong  to  any
      reserved category, infact, he belongs to  the  General  category,  and
      hence, he has no right or locus standi,  to challenge the  appellant’s
      certificate. Thus, the High Court committed an error by directing  the
      Scrutiny Committee to entertain  the  complaint  filed  by  respondent
      no.5.  It has further been  submitted  that,  despite  the  directions
      given  by  this  Court,  the  Scrutiny  Committee  failed  to   ensure
      compliance with the principles of natural justice,  as  the  appellant
      was denied the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses,  and  no  order
      was  passed  with  respect  to  his  application  for  recalling  such
      witnesses for the purpose of cross-examination, which  has  no  doubt,
      resulted in the grave miscarriage of justice.  The affidavit filed  by
      the Scrutiny Committee did not clarify, or make any specific statement
      with respect to whether or not the appellant was permitted  to  cross-
      examine witnesses. It further, did not clarify whether the application
      dated 28.2.2012, filed by the appellant to re-call witnesses  for  the
      purpose of cross-examination, has been  disposed  of.   Moreover,  the
      procedure adopted by the Scrutiny Committee is in contravention of the
      statutory requirements, as have been specified  under the  Maharashtra
      Scheduled  Castes,  Scheduled  Tribes,  De-Notified  Tribes,  (Vimukta
      Jatis),  Nomadic  Tribes,  Other  Backward  Category  (Regulation   of
      Issuance and Verification of) Caste Certificate Act, 2000 (Maharashtra
      Act No. XXIII of 2001 (hereinafter referred to as  the,  `Act  2001’),
      and the Rules, 2003 which are framed under the Act 2001 and therefore,
      all proceedings hereby stand vitiated.  The appellant placed  reliance
      upon several documents which are all very  old  and  therefore,  their
      authenticity  should  not  have  been  doubted.   The  earlier  report
      submitted by the Vigilance Cell dated 29.12.1998, clearly stated  that
      the traits and characteristics of the appellant’s family, matched with
      those of Bhil Tadvi (Scheduled Tribes).  The action of respondent no.5
      is therefore, completely malifide and is intended,  solely  to  harass
      the appellant, and  the  High  Court  committed  grave  error  in  not
      deciding the issue related to the locus standi of respondent  no.5  in
      relation to him filing a complaint in the first  place,  as  the  said
      issue was  specifically  raised  by  the  appellant.   Therefore,  the
      present appeal deserves to be allowed.


      5.    Per contra, Shri Shankar Chillarge,  learned  counsel  appearing
      for the Scrutiny Committee, has made elaborate submissions, in support
      of the impugned judgment and subsequent proceedings.  Mr. Udaya  Kumar
      Sagar and Ms. Bina Madhavan, learned counsel appearing for  respondent
      no.5, have also supported the impugned judgment of the High Court  and
      has further submitted that  even  though  respondent  no.5,  does  not
      belong to the Scheduled Tribes category, he most certainly could  file
      a complaint against the appellant, at such a  belated  stage,  as  the
      appellant  had  obtained  employment  in  1989,   by   way   of   mis-
      representation and fraud. Respondent no.5,  being  a  public  spirited
      person has espoused the cause  of  the  real  persons  who  have  been
      deprived of their right to be considered for the said post occupied by
      the appellant. Respondent No. 5 has also filed affidavits of  relevant
      persons before the Scrutiny Committee, to prove his allegations. Thus,
      the present appeal lacks merit and is liable to be dismissed.


      6.    We have considered the rival submissions made by learned counsel
      for the parties and perused the record.


      Person aggrieved :
      7.    It is a settled legal proposition  that  a  stranger  cannot  be
      permitted to  meddle  in  any  proceeding,  unless  he  satisfies  the
      Authority/Court, that  he  falls  within  the  category  of  aggrieved
      persons.
            Only a person who has suffered, or suffers from legal injury can
      challenge the act/action/order etc. in a court of law. A writ petition
      under Article 226 of the Constitution is maintainable either  for  the
      purpose of enforcing a statutory or legal right, or when  there  is  a
      complaint by the appellant that there has been a breach  of  statutory
      duty on the part of the  Authorities.   Therefore,  there  must  be  a
      judicially enforceable right available for enforcement, on  the  basis
      of which writ jurisdiction is resorted to. The Court  can  of  course,
      enforce the performance of a statutory duty by a  public  body,  using
      its writ jurisdiction at the behest of a person,  provided  that  such
      person satisfies the Court that he has a legal right to insist on such
      performance. The existence of such right  is a condition precedent for
      invoking the writ jurisdiction of the courts. It is  implicit  in  the
      exercise of such extraordinary jurisdiction that,  the  relief  prayed
      for must be one to enforce a legal right.  Infact,  the  existence  of
      such right, is the foundation of the exercise of the said jurisdiction
      by the Court. The legal right that can be enforced must ordinarily  be
      the right of the appellant himself, who  complains  of  infraction  of
      such right and approaches the Court for relief as  regards  the  same.
      (Vide : State of Orissa v. Madan Gopal Rungta, AIR 1952 SC 12;  Saghir
      Ahmad & Anr. v. State of U.P., AIR 1954 SC 728;  Calcutta Gas  Company
      (Proprietary) Ltd. v. State of West Bengal & Ors., AIR 1962  SC  1044;
      Rajendra Singh v. State of Madhya  Pradesh,  AIR  1996  SC  2736;  and
      Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Shareholders Welfare Association (2) v.  S.C.
      Sekar & Ors., (2009) 2 SCC 784).


      8.    A “legal right”, means  an  entitlement  arising  out  of  legal
      rules.  Thus, it  may  be  defined  as  an  advantage,  or  a  benefit
      conferred upon a person by the rule of law.  The  expression,  “person
      aggrieved” does not include a person who suffers from a  psychological
      or an imaginary injury; a person aggrieved must therefore, necessarily
      be one, whose  right  or  interest  has  been  adversely  affected  or
      jeopardised. (Vide: Shanti Kumar R. Chanji v. Home  Insurance  Co.  of
      New York, AIR 1974 SC 1719; and State of Rajasthan & Ors. v. Union  of
      India & Ors., AIR 1977 SC 1361).


      9.    In Anand Sharadchandra Oka v. University of Mumbai, AIR 2008  SC
      1289, a similar view was taken by this Court,  observing  that,  if  a
      person claiming relief is not eligible as  per  requirement,  then  he
      cannot be said to be a person aggrieved regarding the election or  the
      selection of other persons.


      10.   In A. Subhash Babu v. State of A. P.   , AIR 2011 SC 3031,  this
      Court held:
               “The expression ‘aggrieved person’ denotes an elastic and an
               elusive concept. It cannot be confined within the bounds  of
               a rigid, exact and comprehensive definition. Its  scope  and
               meaning depends on diverse, variable  factors  such  as  the
               content and intent of the statute of which contravention  is
               alleged, the specific circumstances of the case, the  nature
               and extent of complainant's interest and the nature and  the
               extent  of  the  prejudice  or  injury   suffered   by   the
               complainant.”


      11.   This Court, even as  regards  the  filing  of  a  habeas  corpus
      petition, has explained that the expression,  ‘next  friend’  means  a
      person who is not a total stranger. Such a petition cannot be filed by
      one who is a complete stranger to the person who is in alleged illegal
      custody. (Vide: Charanjit Lal Chowdhury v. The Union of India  & Ors.,
      AIR 1951 SC 41; Sunil Batra (II) v. Delhi Administration, AIR 1980  SC
      1579; Mrs. Neelima Priyadarshini v. State of Bihar,  AIR 1987 SC 2021;
      Simranjit Singh Mann v. Union of India,  AIR 1993  SC  280;  Karamjeet
      Singh v. Union of India,  AIR 1993 SC  284;  and  Kishore  Samrite  v.
      State of U.P. & Ors., JT (2012) 10 SC 393).


      12.    This  Court  has  consistently  cautioned  the  courts  against
      entertaining public interest litigation filed by unscrupulous persons,
      as such meddlers do not hesitate to abuse the process  of  the  court.
      The right of effective access to justice, which has emerged  with  the
      new social rights regime, must be used to serve  basic  human  rights,
      which purport to guarantee legal rights  and,  therefore,  a  workable
      remedy within the framework of the judicial system must  be  provided.
      Whenever any public interest is invoked, the court  must  examine  the
      case to  ensure  that  there  is  in  fact,  genuine  public  interest
      involved.  The court must maintain strict  vigilance  to  ensure  that
      there is no abuse of  the  process  of  court  and  that,  “ordinarily
      meddlesome  bystanders  are  not  granted  a  Visa”.   Many   societal
      pollutants create new problems of non-redressed  grievances,  and  the
      court should make an earnest endeavour to take up those  cases,  where
      the subjective purpose of the lis justifies the need for  it.   (Vide:
      P.S.R. Sadhanantham v. Arunachalam & Anr.,  AIR  1980  SC  856;  Dalip
      Singh v. State of U.P. & Ors., (2010) 2 SCC 114; State of  Uttaranchal
      v. Balwant Singh Chaufal & Ors., (2010) 3 SCC 402; and Amar  Singh  v.
      Union of India & Ors., (2011) 7 SCC 69)


      13.   Even as regards the filing of a Public Interest Litigation, this
      Court has consistently held that  such  a  course  of  action  is  not
      permissible so far  as  service  matters  are  concerned.  (Vide:  Dr.
      Duryodhan Sahu & Ors. v. Jitendra Kumar Mishra &  Ors.,  AIR  1999  SC
      114; Dattaraj Natthuji Thaware v. State of Maharashtra,  AIR  2005  SC
      540; and Neetu v. State of Punjab & Ors., AIR 2007 SC 758)


      14.   In Ghulam Qadir v. Special Tribunal & Ors.,  (2002)  1  SCC  33,
      this Court considered a similar issue and observed as under:–
               “There is no dispute regarding the  legal  proposition  that
               the rights under Article 226 of the  Constitution  of  India
               can be enforced only by an aggrieved person  except  in  the
               case where the writ prayed for is for habeas corpus  or  quo
               warranto. Another exception  in  the  general  rule  is  the
               filing of a writ petition in public interest. The  existence
               of the legal right of the petitioner  which  is  alleged  to
               have been  violated  is  the  foundation  for  invoking  the
               jurisdiction of the High Court under the aforesaid  article.
               The orthodox rule  of  interpretation  regarding  the  locus
               standi of a person to reach the Court has  undergone  a  sea
               change with the development of  constitutional  law  in  our
               country and the constitutional Courts have been  adopting  a
               liberal approach in dealing with the cases or dislodging the
               claim of a litigant merely on hyper-technical grounds.-------
               -In other words, if the person is found to be not  merely  a
               stranger having no right whatsoever to any post or property,
               he cannot be non-suited on the ground of his not having  the
               locus standi.” (Emphasis added)




      15.   In view of  the  above,  the  law  on  the  said  point  can  be
      summarised to the effect that a person who raises  a  grievance,  must
      show how he has suffered legal injury. Generally, a stranger having no
      right whatsoever to any post  or  property,  cannot  be  permitted  to
      intervene in the affairs of others.

      Locus standi of respondent no.5 :


      16.   As respondent no.5 does  not  belong  to  the  Scheduled  Tribes
      category, the garb adopted by him, of serving the cause  of  Scheduled
      Tribes candidates who might have been  deprived  of  their  legitimate
      right to be considered for the post, must be considered by this  Court
      in order to determine whether respondent no.  5,  is  in  fact,  in  a
      legitimate position to lay  any claim before any forum, whatsoever.


      17.   This Court  in Ravi Yashwant Bhoir v. District Collector, Raigad
      & Ors., (2012) 4 SCC 407,  held as under:
               “Shri  Chintaman  Raghunath  Gharat,  ex-President  was  the
               complainant, thus, at the most, he could lead evidence as  a
               witness. He could not claim the  status  of  an  adversarial
               litigant. The complainant cannot be the party to the lis.  A
               legal right is an averment of  entitlement  arising  out  of
               law. In fact, it is a benefit conferred upon a person by the
               rule of law. Thus, a person who suffers  from  legal  injury
               can only challenge the act or omission. There  may  be  some
               harm or loss that may not be wrongful in the eye of the  law
               because it may not result in injury  to  a  legal  right  or
               legally  protected   interest   of   the   complainant   but
               juridically harm of this description is called  damnum  sine
               injuria.
                  The  complainant  has  to  establish  that  he  has  been
               deprived of or denied of a legal right and he has  sustained
               injury to any legally protected interest. In case he has  no
               legal peg for a justiciable claim to hang on, he  cannot  be
               heard as a  party  in  a  lis.  A  fanciful  or  sentimental
               grievance may not be sufficient to confer a locus standi  to
               sue upon the individual. There must be injuria  or  a  legal
               grievance which can  be  appreciated  and  not  a  stat  pro
               ratione voluntas reasons i.e. a claim devoid of reasons.
                  Under the garb of  being  a  necessary  party,  a  person
               cannot be permitted to make a case as that of general public
               interest. A  person  having  a  remote  interest  cannot  be
               permitted to become a party in the lis, as  the  person  who
               wants to become a party in a case, has to establish that  he
               has a proprietary right which has been or is  threatened  to
               be violated, for the reason that a legal  injury  creates  a
               remedial right in the injured person.  A  person  cannot  be
               heard as a  party  unless  he  answers  the  description  of
               aggrieved party.”



      18.   A similar  view  has  been  re-iterated  by  this  Court  in  K.
      Manjusree v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr., (2008) 3 SCC 512, wherein
      it was held that, the  applicant  before  the  High  Court  could  not
      challenge the appointment of a person as she was in no way  aggrieved,
      for she herself could  not  have  been  selected  by  adopting  either
      method. Morever, the appointment cannot be  challenged  at  a  belated
      stage  and, hence, the petition should have been rejected by the  High
      Court, on the grounds of delay and non-maintainability, alone.


      19.   In Balbir Kaur &  Anr.  v.  Uttar  Pradesh  Secondary  Education
      Services Selection Board, Allahabad & Ors., (2008) 12 SCC  1,  it  has
      been held that a violation  of  the  equality  clauses,  enshrined  in
      Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution, or discrimination in any form,
      can be alleged,  provided that, the  writ  petitioner  demonstrates  a
      certain appreciable disadvantage qua other similarly situated persons.




      20.   While dealing  with  the  similar  issue,  this  Court  in  Raju
      Ramsingh Vasave v. Mahesh Deorao Bhiavapurkar & Ors., (2008) 9 SCC  54
      held:
                “We must now deal with the  question  of  locus  standi.  A
               special  leave  petition  ordinarily  would  not  have  been
               entertained at the instance of the  appellant.  Validity  of
               appointment or otherwise on the basis of a caste certificate
               granted by a committee is ordinarily a  matter  between  the
               employer and the  employee.  This  Court,  however,  when  a
               question is raised, can take cognizance of a matter of  such
               grave importance suo motu. It  may  not  treat  the  special
               leave petition as a public interest litigation,  but,  as  a
               public law litigation.  It  is,  in  a  proceeding  of  that
               nature, permissible for the court to make a detailed enquiry
               with regard to the broader aspects of the matter although it
               was initiated at the instance of a person having  a  private
               interest. A deeper scrutiny can be made so as to enable  the
               court to find out as to whether a party to a lis  is  guilty
               of commission of fraud  on  the  Constitution.  If  such  an
               enquiry subserves the greater public interest and has a far-
               reaching effect on the society, in our opinion,  this  Court
               will not shirk its responsibilities from doing so.”


      (See also: Manohar Joshi v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., (2012) 3  SCC
      619)


      21.   In Vinoy Kumar v. State of U.P., AIR 2001 SC  1739,  this  Court
      held:
               “Even in cases filed  in  public  interest,  the  court  can
               exercise the writ jurisdiction at the instance  of  a  third
               party only when it is shown that the legal  wrong  or  legal
               injury or illegal burden is threatened and  such  person  or
               determined  class  of  person  is  by  reason  of   poverty,
               helplessness  or  disability  or  socially  or  economically
               disadvantaged position, unable to  approach  the  court  for
               relief.”


      22.    Thus,  from  the  above  it  is  evident  that  under  ordinary
      circumstances, a third person, having no  concern  with  the  case  at
      hand, cannot claim to have any locus-standi  to  raise  any  grievance
      whatsoever.  However, in the exceptional circumstances as referred  to
      above,  if  the  actual  persons  aggrieved,  because  of   ignorance,
      illiteracy, inarticulation or poverty,  are  unable  to  approach  the
      court, and a person,  who  has  no  personal  agenda,  or  object,  in
      relation to which, he can grind his own  axe,  approaches  the  court,
      then the court may examine the issue and in exceptional circumstances,
      even if  his bonafides are doubted, but the issue raised  by  him,  in
      the opinion of the  court,  requires  consideration,   the  court  may
      proceed suo-motu, in such respect.


      Cross-examination is one part of the principles of natural justice:


      23.   A Constitution Bench of this Court in State of M.P. v. Chintaman
      Sadashiva Vaishampayan, AIR 1961 SC  1623,  held  that  the  rules  of
      natural justice, require that a party must be given the opportunity to
      adduce all relevant evidence upon which he relies, and  further  that,
      the evidence of the opposite party should be taken  in  his  presence,
      and that he should be given the  opportunity  of  cross-examining  the
      witnesses examined by that party. Not providing the  said  opportunity
      to cross-examine witnesses, would violate the  principles  of  natural
      justice. (See also: Union of India v.T.R.  Varma,  AIR  1957  SC  882;
      Meenglas Tea Estate v. Workmen, AIR 1963 SC 1719; M/s. Kesoram  Cotton
      Mills Ltd. v. Gangadhar & Ors., AIR 1964 SC 708; New  India  Assurance
      Company Ltd . v . Nusli Neville Wadia  and  Anr.,  AIR  2008  SC  876;
      Rachpal Singh & Ors. v. Gurmit Singh & Ors., AIR 2009 SC 2448;  Biecco
      Lawrie & Anr. v. State of West Bengal & Anr., AIR  2010  SC  142;  and
      State of Uttar Pradesh v. Saroj Kumar Sinha, AIR 2010  SC 3131).


      24.    In Lakshman Exports Ltd. v. Collector of Central Excise, (2005)
      10 SCC 634, this Court, while dealing with a case  under  the  Central
      Excise Act, 1944, considered a  similar  issue  i.e.  permission  with
      respect to the cross-examination of a witness. In the said  case,  the
      assessee had specifically asked to be  allowed  to  cross-examine  the
      representatives of the firms concern, to establish that the  goods  in
      question had been accounted for in their books of accounts,  and  that
      excise duty had been paid. The Court held that such  a  request  could
      not be turned down, as the denial of the right to cross-examine, would
      amount to a denial of the right to be heard i.e. audi alteram partem.


      25.   In New India Assurance Company Ltd., v. Nusli  Neville  Wadia  &
      Anr., AIR 2008 SC 876; this Court considered a case under  the  Public
      Premises ( Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 and  held  as
      follows :-
               “If  some  facts  are  to  be  proved   by   the   landlord,
               indisputably the occupant should get an opportunity to cross-
               examine. The witness who intends to prove the said fact  has
               the right to cross-examine the  witness.  This  may  not  be
               provided by under the statute, but it being a  part  of  the
               principle  of  natural  justice  should  be   held   to   be
               indefeasible right.”        (Emphasis added)


           In view of the above, we are of the considered opinion that  the
      right of cross-examination is an integral part of  the  principles  of
      natural justice.


      26.   In K.L. Tripathi v. State Bank of India & Ors., AIR 1984 SC 273,
      this Court held that, in order to sustain a complaint of the violation
      of the principles of natural justice  on  the  ground  of  absence  of
      opportunity of cross-examination, it must  be  established  that  some
      prejudice has been caused to the appellant by the procedure  followed.
      A party, who does not want to controvert the veracity of the  evidence
      on record, or of the testimony gathered behind his back, cannot expect
      to succeed in any subsequent grievance raised by him, stating that  no
      opportunity of cross-examination was provided to him,  specially  when
      the same was not requested, and there was  no  dispute  regarding  the
      veracity of the statement. (See also: Union of India v. P.K. Roy,  AIR
      1968 SC 850; and Channabasappa Basappa Happali v. State of Mysore, AIR
      1972 SC 32).


      27.   In Transmission Corpn. of A.P. Ltd. v.  Sri  Rama  Krishna  Rice
      Mill,  AIR 2006 SC 1445, this Court held:
               “ In  order  to  establish  that  the  cross-examination  is
               necessary, the consumer has to make out a case for the same.
               Merely stating that the statement of  an  officer  is  being
               utilised for  the  purpose  of  adjudication  would  not  be
               sufficient  in  all  cases.  If  an  application   is   made
               requesting for grant of an opportunity to cross-examine  any
               official, the same has to be considered by the  adjudicating
               authority who shall have to either grant the request or pass
               a reasoned order if he chooses to reject the application. In
               that event an adjudication  being  concluded,  it  shall  be
               certainly open to  the  consumer  to  establish  before  the
               Appellate Authority as to how he has been prejudiced by  the
               refusal  to  grant  an  opportunity  to  cross-examine   any
               official”.


      28.   The meaning of providing a reasonable opportunity to show  cause
      against an action proposed to be taken by the government, is that  the
      government servant is afforded  a  reasonable  opportunity  to  defend
      himself against the charges, on the basis of which an inquiry is held.
      The government servant should be given  an  opportunity  to  deny  his
      guilt and establish his innocence. He can do so only when he  is  told
      what the charges against him are. He can therefore, do  so  by  cross-
      examining the witnesses produced against him. The object of  supplying
      statements is that, the government servant will be able  to  refer  to
      the previous statements of  the  witnesses  proposed  to  be  examined
      against him. Unless the said statements are provided to the government
      servant, he will not be able to conduct an effective and useful cross-
      examination.


      29.   In Rajiv Arora v. Union of India & Ors., AIR 2009 SC 1100,  this
      Court held:
               “Effective cross-examination could have been done as regards
               the correctness or otherwise of the report, if the  contents
               of  them  were  proved.  The  principles  analogous  to  the
               provisions   of   the   Indian   Evidence   Act   as    also
               the principles of natural justice demand that the  maker  of
               the report should be examined,  save  and  except  in  cases
               where the facts  are  admitted  or  the  witnesses  are  not
               available for cross-examination or  similar  situation.  The
               High Court in its impugned judgment  proceeded  to  consider
               the issue on a technical plea, namely, no prejudice has been
               caused to the appellant  by  such  non-examination.  If  the
               basic principles of law have not been complied with or there
               has       been       a       gross       violation        of
               the principles of natural justice,  the  High  Court  should
               have exercised its jurisdiction of judicial review.”




      30.   The aforesaid discussion makes it evident that, not only  should
      the opportunity of cross-examination be made available, but it  should
      be one of effective cross-examination, so as to meet  the  requirement
      of the principles of natural  justice.  In  the  absence  of  such  an
      opportunity, it cannot be  held that the matter has  been  decided  in
      accordance with law, as cross-examination  is  an  integral  part  and
      parcel of the principles of natural justice.


      31.   Affidavit - whether evidence within the meaning of Section 3  of
      the  Evidence Act, 1872:
            It is a settled legal  proposition  that  an  affidavit  is  not
      evidence within the meaning of Section 3 of the Indian  Evidence  Act,
      1872 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Evidence Act’).
            Affidavits are therefore, not included within the purview of the
      definition of "evidence" as  has  been  given  in  Section  3  of  the
      Evidence Act, and the same can be used  as  "evidence"  only  if,  for
      sufficient reasons, the Court passes an order under Order XIX  of  the
      Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter referred to as the  ‘CPC’).
      Thus, the filing of an affidavit of one’s own statement, in one’s  own
      favour, cannot be regarded as sufficient evidence  for  any  Court  or
      Tribunal, on the basis of which it can come to a conclusion as regards
      a particular fact-situation. (Vide: Sudha Devi  v.  M.P.  Narayanan  &
      Ors., AIR 1988 SC 1381; and Range Forest Officer   v.  S.T.  Hadimani,
      AIR 2002 SC 1147).


      32.   While examining a case under the provisions  of  the  Industrial
      Disputes Act, 1947, this Court, in M/s Bareilly Electricity Supply Co.
      Ltd.  v.  The  Workmen  &  Ors.,  AIR  1972  SC  330,  considered  the
      application of Order XIX, Rules 1 and 2 CPC,  and observed as under:-
               "But the application of principles of natural  justice  does
               not imply that what is not evidence, can be acted  upon.  On
               the other hand, what it means is that  no  material  can  be
               relied upon to establish a  contested  fact  which  are  not
               spoken to by the persons who are competent  to  speak  about
               them and are  subject  to  cross-examination  by  the  party
               against whom they are sought to be used. When a document  is
               produced in  a  Court  or  a  Tribunal,  the  question  that
               naturally arises is: is it a genuine document, what are  its
               contents and are the statements contained therein true......
               If a letter or other document is produced to establish  some
               fact which is relevant to the inquiry, the  writer  must  be
               produced or his affidavit in respect thereof  be  filed  and
               opportunity afforded to the opposite  party  who  challenges
               this fact. This is both in accordance with the principles of
               natural justice as also according to the procedure under  O.
               19  of  the  Code  and  the  Evidence  Act,  both  of  which
               incorporate the general principles."




      33.   In Needle Industries (India) Ltd. & Ors. v.  N.I.N.I.H.  Ltd.  &
      Ors., AIR 1981 SC 1298, this Court considered a case under the  Indian
      Companies Act, and observed that,  “it is generally unsatisfactory  to
      record a finding  involving  grave  consequences  with  respect  to  a
      person, on the basis of affidavits and documents alone, without asking
      that person to submit to cross-examination”. However, the  conduct  of
      the parties may be an important factor,  with  regard  to  determining
      whether they showed their willingness to get the said issue determined
      on the basis of affidavits, correspondence and other documents, on the
      basis  of  which  proper  and  necessary  inferences  can  safely  and
      legitimately be drawn.


      34.   In Ramesh Kumar v. Kesho Ram,  AIR  1992  SC  700,  this   Court
      considered the scope of application of the provisions of O. XIX, Rr. 1
      and 2 CPC  in a Rent Control matter, observing as under:-
               "The Court may also treat any affidavit filed in support  of
               the pleadings itself as one under the  said  provisions  and
               call upon the opposite side to traverse it. The Court, if it
               finds that having regard to the nature of  the  allegations,
               it is necessary to record oral evidence tested by oral cross-
               examination, may have recourse to that procedure."




      35.   In Standard Chartered Bank v.  Andhra  Bank  Financial  Services
      Ltd. & Ors., (2006) 6 SCC 94, this Court while  dealing  with  a  case
      under  the  provisions  of  Companies  Act,  1956,  while  considering
      complex issues regarding the Markets, Exchanges  and  Securities,  and
      the procedure to be followed by special Tribunals, held as under :
               “While it may be true that the Special Court has been  given
               a certain amount of latitude in the matter of procedure,  it
               surely cannot fly away  from  established  legal  principles
               while deciding the cases before it.  As  to  what  inference
               arises from a document,  is  always  a  matter  of  evidence
               unless the document is self-explanatory…….In the absence  of
               any such explanation, it was not open to the  Special  Court
               to come up with its own explanations and decide the fate  of
               the suit on the basis of its inference based on such assumed
               explanations.”




      36.   Therefore, affidavits in the light of the  aforesaid  discussion
      are not considered to be evidence, within the meaning of Section 3  of
      the Evidence Act. However, in a case where the deponent  is  available
      for cross-examination, and opportunity is given to the other  side  to
      cross-examine him, the same can be relied  upon.   Such  view,  stands
      fully affirmed particularly, in view  of  the  amended  provisions  of
      Order XVIII,  Rules 4 & 5 CPC.  In  certain  other  circumstances,  in
      order to avoid technicalities of  procedure,  the  legislature,  or  a
      court/tribunal, can even lay down a procedure to meet the  requirement
      of compliance with the principles of natural justice,  and  thus,  the
      case will be examined in the light of those statutory  rules  etc.  as
      framed by the aforementioned authorities.


      37.   The instant case is required to be examined in the light of  the
      aforesaid legal propositions.  This  Court  examined  this  matter  in
      detail in Km. Madhuri Patil v. Addl. Commissioner, Tribal Development,
      (1994) 6 SCC 241, and upon realising that spurious tribes and  persons
      not belonging to the Scheduled Tribes category,  were  snatching  away
      the reservation benefits that have  been  made  available  to  genuine
      tribals, and that they were being wrongly deprived of their rights  on
      the basis  of  false  caste  certificates,  and  that  further,  at  a
      subsequent   stage   such   unscrupulous   persons,   after    getting
      admission/employment,  were  adopting   dilatory  tactics,  the  court
      issued a large number of directions to investigate such cases of false
      claims. The directions inter-alia included:
      (1)   Each Directorate should constitute a vigilance  cell  consisting
      of Senior Deputy Superintendent of Police in over all charge and  such
      number of Police Inspectors to  investigate  into  the  social  status
      claims.
      (2)   The Director concerned,  on  receipt  of  the  report  from  the
      vigilance officer if he found the claim for social status to  be  “not
      genuine’’ or “doubtful’’ or spurious or falsely  or  wrongly  claimed,
      the Director concerned should issue show cause notice supplying a copy
      of the  report  of  the  vigilance  officer  to  the  candidate  by  a
      registered post with acknowledgement due or through the  head  of  the
      concerned educational institution in which the candidate  is  studying
      or employed........... After giving such opportunity either in  person
      or through counsel, the Committee may make such inquiry  as  it  deems
      expedient and consider the claims vis-a-vis the objections  raised  by
      the candidate or opponent and pass an  appropriate  order  with  brief
      reasons in support thereof.

      (3)   In case the report is in favour of the candidate and found to be
      genuine and true, no further action need be  taken  except  where  the
      report or the particulars given are procured or found to be  false  or
      fraudulently obtained and in the latter event the same procedure as is
      envisaged in para 6 be followed.

      (4)   The inquiry should be completed  as  expeditiously  as  possible
      preferably by day-to-day proceedings within such period not  exceeding
      two months. If after inquiry, the caste Scrutiny Committee  finds  the
      claim to be false or spurious, they should pass  an  order  cancelling
      the certificate issued and confiscate the same. It should  communicate
      within one month from the date of the conclusion  of  the  proceedings
      the result of enquiry to the parent/guardian and the applicant.

      (5)   In case, the certificate obtained or social  status  claimed  is
      found  to  be  false,  the  parent/guardian/the  candidate  should  be
      prosecuted for making false  claim.  If  the  prosecution  ends  in  a
      conviction and sentence of the accused, it could  be  regarded  as  an
      offence involving moral turpitude, disqualification for elective posts
      or offices under the State or the Union  or  elections  to  any  local
      body, legislature or the Parliament.

      (6)   As soon as the finding is recorded  by  the  Scrutiny  Committee
      holding that the certificate obtained was false, on  its  cancellation
      and confiscation simultaneously, it  should  be  communicated  to  the
      concerned educational  institution  or  the  appointing  authority  by
      registered post with acknowledgement due with a request to cancel  the
      admission or the appointment. The principal etc.  of  the  educational
      institution responsible for making the  admission  or  the  appointing
      authority, should cancel the admission/appointment without any further
      notice to the candidate and debar the candidate for further  study  or
      continue in office in a post.
            The court further issued directions to all States to give effect
      to  the  aforesaid  directions,  in   order   to   ensure   that   the
      constitutional objectives that were intended for the benefit  and  the
      advancement of persons genuinely belonging to the Scheduled Castes and
      Scheduled Tribes category,  are  not  defeated  by  such  unscrupulous
      persons.
            The Act 2000 and the Rules 2003  are  based  on  the  directions
      issued by this Court in Km. Madhuri Patil (supra)  as  the  same  have
      been incorporated therein.
      38.   The correctness of  the  said  judgment  in  Km.  Madhuri  Patil
      (supra), was doubted, and the matter was referred to and decided by  a
      larger bench of this Court in Daya Ram v. Sudhir Batham & Ors., (2012)
      1 SCC 333,  wherein,  while  deciding  the  various  issues  involved,
      including the competence of this Court to legislate in this regard, it
      was held as under:

               “The scrutiny committee is  not  an  adjudicating  authority
               like a Court or Tribunal, but an administrative  body  which
               verifies the facts, investigates into a specific  claim  (of
               caste status) and ascertains whether the caste/tribal status
               claimed is correct or not…...

                Having regard to the scheme for verification formulated  by
               this Court in Madhuri Patil, the scrutiny  committees  carry
               out verification of caste certificates issued without  prior
               enquiry, as for example the  caste  certificates  issued  by
               Tehsildars  or  other  officers  of   the   departments   of
               Revenue/Social Welfare/Tribal Welfare, without  any  enquiry
               or on the basis of self- affidavits about  caste.  If  there
               were to be a legislation governing or  regulating  grant  of
               caste certificates, and if  caste  certificates  are  issued
               after due and proper inquiry, such caste  certificates  will
               not  call  for  verification  by  the  scrutiny  committees.
               Madhuri Patil provides for verification only to avoid  false
               and bogus claims…..”
                                                   (Emphasis added)


      39.   Thus, it is evident from the  aforesaid  judgment  in  Daya  Ram
      (supra), that the purpose of issuing directions in Km.  Madhuri  Patil
      (supra), was only to examine those cases, where caste certificates had
      been issued without conducting any prior enquiry, on the basis of self-
       affidavits regarding one’s caste alone, and that the said  directions
      were  not  at  all  applicable,  where  a  legislation  governing   or
      regulating the grant of caste certificates  exists,  and  where  caste
      certificates  are  issued  after  due  and  proper   enquiry.    Caste
      certificates issued by holding proper enquiry, in accordance with duly
      prescribed procedure, would not require any  further  verification  by
      the scrutiny committee.


      40.    In pursuance of the said order issued by the  High  Court,  the
      Scrutiny Committee examined the case of  the  parties.  However,  with
      respect to this, the appellant raised the grievance that, the evidence
      of a large number  of  persons  had  been  recorded  by  the  Scrutiny
      Committee behind  his  back,  and  that  he  had  not  been  given  an
      opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses that were examined  by  the
      other side and therefore, he was unable to lead a proper defence.  The
      appellant filed an application dated 28.2.2012,  for  the  purpose  of
      recalling  3  witnesses,  namely,  Sikandar  Gulab  Tadvi,   Bhagchand
      Ganpatsing Pardeshi and Bahadursing Mukhtarsing Patil, so that he  may
      cross-examine them.  The appellant also filed another  application  on
      the same day, seeking a period of 30 days time, to file his  reply  as
      is required within the provisions of Rule 12(8) of the Rules 2003, and
      also another application for the purpose of calling  of  records  from
      the office of the Tehsildar,  to  ascertain  the  genuineness  of  the
      certificate impugned.  None of the said applications have been decided
      till now.


      41.     In view  thereof,  this  Court  vide  order  dated  11.5.2012,
      directed the learned counsel appearing for the Scrutiny Committee,  to
      produce the original record of the matter and  to  file  an  affidavit
      with respect to whether the appellant had been given an opportunity to
      cross-examine the witnesses that were examined by the other side,  and
      also with respect to whether  the  other  applications  filed  by  the
      appellant, were decided upon.


      42.   In  pursuance  of  the  said  order,  the  original  record  was
      produced. However, the learned counsel remained unable  to  point  out
      from the original record, any proceeding or event, by way of which, it
      could be  ascertained  that  the  appellant  was  in  fact,  given  an
      opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses, or to show  that  all  the
      said witnesses  were  examined  in  the  presence  of  the  appellant.
      Further, he was also unable to satisfy this Court, with respect to the
      circumstances under which, the applications filed by the appellant  on
      28.2.2012, including the one to recall witnesses  and  permit  him  to
      cross-examine them, have been kept pending, without passing any  order
      in relation to either one of them.


      43.    In  order  to  determine  the  genuineness  and  sincerity   of
      respondent no. 5, this Court on 29.10.2012 adjourned the matter  until
      5.11.2012, directing respondent no. 5 to act as under:
               “Meanwhile, respondent No. 5 may file the  affidavit  as  on
               what date he appeared before the Scrutiny Committee and what
               was the material produced by him and as to whether  on  that
               petitioner  had  a  notice  of  his  appearance  before  the
               Scrutiny Committee and whether the Committee has allowed the
               petitioner to cross examine the respondent No. 5.”




            In response to  the  said  order,  respondent  no.  5  filed  an
      affidavit in Court on 5.11.2012.  The contents of the affidavit reveal
      that respondent no.5 claims that his occupation is that  of  a  social
      worker. The allegations against the appellant stating that he obtained
      the  said  caste  certificate  fraudulently,   have   been   repeated.
      Respondent no. 5 has not mentioned in the affidavit, the date on which
      he appeared before the Scrutiny Committee, nor has he responded to the
      query raised with respect to whether he had produced any  evidence  to
      support his allegations, or whether the appellant was allowed to cross-
      examine any of the witnesses, or if in fact, he simply examined all of
      them himself.
           The relevant part of the abovementioned affidavit, has been  re-
      produced hereunder:
               “That it is submitted that on 28.2.2012 the Respondent No. 5
               submitted copy of Affidavit of Mr. Supdu Musa Tadvi  and  by
               way of an application prayed for personal  presence  of  Mr.
               Supdu Musa Tadvi.  Scrutiny Committee finding contradictions
               in the two statement of Mr. Supdu Musa Tadvi, issued  notice
               to  him  requesting  his  personal  presence  on  17.3.2012.
               However, Mr. Supdu Musa  Tadri  never  appeared  before  the
               Committee.”


      44.   The affidavit of Mr. Supdu Musa Tadri  referred  to  hereinabove
      cannot be relied upon, as the said deponent  never appeared before the
      Scrutiny Committee. The conduct of respondent  no.  5,  who  has  been
      pursuing the said matter from one court to another,  is  found  to  be
      reprehensible, and without any sense of responsibility whatsoever,  as
      he could not submit any satisfactory response to the directions issued
      by this Court on 29.10.2012.  In view of  the  above,  we  are  highly
      doubtful as regards his  bonafides.   He  has  therefore,  disentitled
      himself from appearing either before this Court, or any  other  court,
      or Committee, so far as the instant case is concerned.


      45.   The Scrutiny Committee in ordinary  circumstances  examined  the
      matter  and  after  investigation  through  its  Vigilance  Cell   and
      considering all the documentary evidence on  record  and  after  being
      satisfied,  granted  the  caste  verification  certificate  in   2000.
      Section 114 Ill.(e) of the Evidence Act  provided  for  the  court  to
      pronounce that the decision taken by the Scrutiny Committee  has  been
      done in regular course and the caste certificate has been issued after
      due verification.  A very  strong  material/evidence  is  required  to
      rebut the presumption. In fact, respondent no. 5 has no legal peg  for
      a justifiable claim to hang upon.   Once the respondent no. 5, for the
      reasons best known to him, had challenged caste certificate under  the
      garb of acting as a public spirited  person  espousing  the  cause  of
      legitimate persons who had been  deprived  of  their  right  of  being
      considered for appointment, the respondent  no.  5   must  have  acted
      seriously and brought the material before the  Scrutiny  Committee  to
      show that the earlier decision was improbable or factually  incorrect.
      Such a view stands fortified by a catena of decisions rendered by this
      Court where it has been held that presumption is based on legal  maxim
      “Omnia praesumuntur rite esse acta” i.e. all acts are presumed to have
      rightly and regularly been done.
            Such a presumption  can  be  rebutted  by  adducing  appropriate
      evidence. Mere statement made in the written statement/petition is not
      enough to rebut the presumption. The onus of rebuttal  lies  upon  the
      person who alleges that the act had not been  regularly  performed  or
      the procedure required under the law had not been  followed.    (Vide:
      Gopal Narain v. State of U.P. & Anr., AIR 1964 SC 370; Narayan  Govind
      Gavate & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., AIR 1977 SC 183; Karewwa
      & Ors.v. Hussensab  Khansaheb  Wajantri  &  Ors.,  AIR  2002  SC  504;
      Engineering Kamgar Union v. Electro  Steels   Castings  Ltd.  &  Anr.,
      (2004) 6 SCC 36; Mohd. Shahabuddin v. State of  Bihar,  (2010)  4  SCC
      653; Punjab State Electricity Board & Anr. v. Ashwani Kumar, (2010)  7
      SCC 569; M. Chandra v. M. Thangmuthu & Anr., AIR 2011 SC 146;  and  R.
      Ramachandran Nair v. Deputy Superintendent, Vigilance Police, (2011) 4
      SCC 395)


      46.   In view of the above discussion and considering the  seriousness
      of the allegations, as the Scrutiny Committee has already conducted an
      inquiry in relation to this matter, and  the  only  grievance  of  the
      appellant is that there has been non-compliance with the principles of
      natural justice, and the fact that the applications filed by him, were
      not decided upon, we direct that before the submission of  any  report
      by the Scrutiny Committee, his application for calling  the  witnesses
      for cross-examination must be disposed of, and appellant must be given
      a fair opportunity to  cross-examine  the  witnesses,  who  have  been
      examined  before  the  Committee.  We  further  direct  the   Scrutiny
      Committee to pass  appropriate  orders  in  accordance  with  the  law
      thereafter.  In case, the  Scrutiny  Committee  has  already  taken  a
      decision, the same  being  violative  of  the  principles  of  natural
      justice, would stand vitiated.


      47.   The appeal is disposed of accordingly, however, considering  the
      fact that respondent no. 5 has not  been  pursuing  the  matter  in  a
      bonafide manner, and has not raised any  public  interest,  rather  he
      abused the process of the court only  to  harass  the  appellant,  the
      respondent no. 5 is restrained from  intervening  in  the  matter  any
      further, and also from remaining a party to it,  and he is also liable
      to pay costs to the tune of  Rs. one lakh, within a period  of 4 weeks
      to  the  District  Collector,  Aurangabad.   The  District  Collector,
      Aurangabad, would deposit the  said  amount  in  the  account  of  the
      Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.    In the event that, the cost
      imposed is not  deposited  by  respondent  no.  5  within  the  period
      stipulated, we request the District Collector, Aurangabad, to  recover
      the same as arrears of land revenue and deposit the same, accordingly.


            A copy of the judgment be sent by the Registry of this Court  to
      the District Collector, Aurangabad (Maharashtra) for compliance.


                                  ……………………………………J.
                                  (Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN)


                                  ……………………………………J.
                                  (JAGDISH SINGH KHEHAR)

      New Delhi,
      November 8,  2012




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