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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Elections - reservations - caste certificate and income certificate - In Ballari Zilla Panchayat, the post of Adhyaksha was reserved for the category of Backward Caste-B (Women). After the said notification, since the appellant intended to contest the election to the post of Adhyaksha of Ballari Zilla Panchayat, she made an application on 22.04.2016 to the jurisdictional Tahshildar for issuance of Income and Caste Certificate, a certificate which was a prerequisite for submitting the nomination form for the election to the post of Adhayaksha. That certificate was issued by the Tahshildar on 26.04.2016 on the basis of which the appellant contested the election held on 29.04.2016 and was declared elected. As required in terms of the Karnataka Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (Reservation of Appointment etc.) Act, 1990 and the Rules framed thereunder, the Income and Caste Certificate has been forwarded to the District Caste Verification 3 Committee Ballari. The process of verification thereof is still in progress. 3. According to the appellant, at the behest of the unsuccessful candidates who could not file any election petition to challenge the election of the appellant, respondent Nos.6 to 9 filed a writ petition before the High Court of Karnataka, Dharwad being Writ Petition No.106417 of 2016, about 3 months after the election of the appellant as Adhyaksha. The substance of the allegation made in the said writ petition against the appellant was that she played fraud on the Government and public by submitting a false affidavit before the Tahshildar for issuance of Income and Caste Certificate, on the basis of which she contested the election for the post of Adhyaksha Zilla Panchayat and got elected to the said post, to which she was otherwise not entitled to or qualified for. = directing the Caste Verification Committee to expedite the enquiry regarding the validity of the Income and Caste Certificate issued to the appellant by respondent no.5 and conclude the same preferably within two months and also intimate its final decision to the appellant within the same time. Needless to observe that the Caste Scrutiny Committee will decide the matter on its own merit and without being influenced whatsoever by any observations made in the impugned judgments but in accordance with law. Besides, it shall deal with every contention raised before it by recording tangible reasons.

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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1763 OF 2018
(Arising out of SLP (Civil) No.1532 of 2018)
Bharati Reddy …..Appellant(s)
:Versus:
The State of Karnataka & Ors. ....Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T
A.M. Khanwilkar, J.
1. This appeal, by special leave, takes exception to the
judgment and order passed by the Division Bench of the High
Court of Karnataka, Dharwad Bench dated 04.12.2017 in Writ
Appeal No.5872 of 2017.
2. Briefly stated, pursuant to notification dated 04.12.2015,
elections were held and the appellant was elected on
28.03.2016 as a member of the Zilla Panchayat from 13-
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Badanahatti Constituency, Ballari District, Karnataka which
was reserved for General (Women) Category. Later, the State
Government published a notification on 15.04.2016 declaring
the reservation for the post of Adhyaksha and Upa-Adhyaksha
of Zilla Panchayats in the State. In Ballari Zilla Panchayat, the
post of Adhyaksha was reserved for the category of Backward
Caste-B (Women). After the said notification, since the
appellant intended to contest the election to the post of
Adhyaksha of Ballari Zilla Panchayat, she made an application
on 22.04.2016 to the jurisdictional Tahshildar for issuance of
Income and Caste Certificate, a certificate which was a
prerequisite for submitting the nomination form for the
election to the post of Adhayaksha. That certificate was issued
by the Tahshildar on 26.04.2016 on the basis of which the
appellant contested the election held on 29.04.2016 and was
declared elected. As required in terms of the Karnataka
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward
Classes (Reservation of Appointment etc.) Act, 1990 and the
Rules framed thereunder, the Income and Caste Certificate
has been forwarded to the District Caste Verification 
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Committee Ballari. The process of verification thereof is still in
progress.
3. According to the appellant, at the behest of the
unsuccessful candidates who could not file any election
petition to challenge the election of the appellant, respondent
Nos.6 to 9 filed a writ petition before the High Court of
Karnataka, Dharwad being Writ Petition No.106417 of 2016,
about 3 months after the election of the appellant as
Adhyaksha. The substance of the allegation made in the said
writ petition against the appellant was that she played fraud
on the Government and public by submitting a false affidavit
before the Tahshildar for issuance of Income and Caste
Certificate, on the basis of which she contested the election for
the post of Adhyaksha Zilla Panchayat and got elected to the
said post, to which she was otherwise not entitled to or
qualified for. The allegation about the nature of fraud
committed by the appellant can be discerned from the
assertions made in paragraphs 6 and 7 of the writ petition,
which read thus:
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“6. It is submitted that the 6th Respondent in order to
grab the post of Adhyaksha of Zila Panchayat has
submitted a bogus and false caste certificate to show
that she belongs to the Backward community-B Category
obtained from the 5th Respondent. It is further submitted
that in the application filed by 6th Respondent to 5th
Respondent for issuance of caste certificate, she filed an
affidavit stating that her livelihood is agriculture and that
she owns 1.03 acres of agricultural land in Badanahatti
village and 3.50 Acres of land in Sy. No. 36A in Yarrangaligi
village. Further she also declared that her family income is
not more than Rs.3,50,000/- per annum from all other
sources and that she and her husband are not assessed to
Income Tax and Commercial Tax. The said declaration
made by the 6th Respondent is totally false to the
knowledge of herself, which is clear from the Affidavit filed
by the 6th Respondent before the 2nd Respondent while
contesting for the member of Bellary Zilla Panchayat General
Elections. It is further submitted that the 6th Respondent in
her affidavit dated 06.02.2016 declared that she is getting
rent of Rs.1,40,000/- per annum and her husband getting
4,80,000/- per annum, which details are found in paragraph
4-A. This itself shows that her family income from one
source only is more than 3,50,000/- as declared in the
affidavit dated 26.04.2016 filed before the 5th Respondent for
issuance of Caste and Income Certificate. That apart she
has also declared in the said affidavit dated 26.04.2016 that
she and her husband are not assessed to the Income Tax
and Commercial Tax, which are also contrary to the
declaration made in the affidavit dated 06.02.2016 filed
before 2nd Respondent that she has been assessed to Income
Tax and has paid Income Tax, the said details are stated in
paragraph 5 of the said affidavit. It is also reliably learnt
that the husband of the 6th Respondent is Class-I contractor
and is having more than income of Rs. 1,00,00,000/- per
annum and is assessed to Income Tax and Commercial
Taxes. True copies of the Affidavit dated 06.02.2016,
26.04.2016 and Caste and Income Certificate issued by the
5th Respondent dated 26.04.2016 are produced herewith as
Annexure-E,F and G respectively.
7. It is further submitted that in the proceedings held on
29.04.2016 under the Chairmanship of Regional
Commissioner, Kalburgi Division, Kalburgi, the 6th
Respondent was successful in getting elected as
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Adhyaksha under the Category-Backward Community-B
based on the above said false Caste and Income
Certificate which was issued by the 5th Respondent on
the same day of application without any proper enquiry
as required under the law. A true copy of the said
proceedings dated 29.04.2016 is produced herewith as
Annexure-H.”
(emphasis supplied)
On the basis of these allegations, the respondent Nos.6 to 9
prayed for the following reliefs in the said writ petition:
“PRAYER
Wherefore, this Hon‟ble Court may be pleased to
a. Issue a writ of Quo Warranto directing the 6th Respondent
to vacate the office of the Adhyaksha, Zilla Panchayat,
Bellary.
b. set aside the proceedings dated 29.04.2016 bearing No.
SUM./KAM/Pra HaGu/chunavana/05/2016-17 declaring
the 6th Respondent as Adhyaksha of Zilla Panchayat,
Bellary vide Annexure-H.
c. consequently quash the caste certificate issued to the
6th Respondent vide order dated 26-04-2016 in
application No. 01/16-17 issued by the 5th
Respondent vide Annexure-G.
d. pass such other or further orders or directions as this
Hon‟ble Court may deem fit, in the interest of justice”.
(emphasis supplied)
4. This writ petition was contested by the appellant inter
alia on the ground that the same was not maintainable in view
of the bar contained in Article 243-O of the Constitution of
India. Further, the writ petitioners were only voters and
therefore, had no locus to challenge the election of the
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appellant as Adhyaksha, which was an indirect election. Rule
7 of the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Rules explicitly envisages
that only a member of the Panchayat may challenge the
validity of the election of Adhyaksha and Upa-Adhyaksha. It
was also pointed out that the writ petition filed by the said
respondents was a politically motivated petition and filed at
the behest of unsuccessful candidates who could not prevent
the appellant from getting elected as Adhyaksha. As regards
the allegations in the writ petition that the appellant had made
false declarations and filed incorrect affidavits, the appellant
contended that the Income and Caste Certificate was issued in
favour of the appellant by the competent authority after
completing all the formalities and procedure. So long as the
said certificate was valid and in force, issuance of writ of quo
warranto was misplaced. For, there is legal presumption about
the validity of the said certificate in terms of Rules 3-C of the
Rules of 1992 framed under the 1990 Act. The said Rule
makes it amply clear that the certificate would remain valid
until it is cancelled by the jurisdictional Caste Verification
Committee. The appellant also pointed out that the allegation
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made in the writ petition, regarding the false or incorrect
income disclosure made by the appellant, was wrong and illfounded.
Such allegation was based on far-fetched logic and
untenable assumptions. The affidavit dated 06.02.2016
submitted along with the nomination form filed for contesting
elections from 13-Badanahatti Constituency was in reference
to the factual position stated therein. Similarly, the affidavit
filed by the appellant dated 26.04.2016 was also true, faithful
and accurate as it disclosed facts in reference to the
qualification required for contesting the election of Adhyaksha
at the relevant time, in respect of post reserved for “B”
Category (Women) Backward Caste. In other words, both the
affidavits and the information disclosed therein were truthful,
accurate and contextual, as noted in the respective affidavit.
The appellant also asserted that the fact that the Income and
Caste Certificate was issued within five days from the date of
application for the said certificate or on the same date the
affidavit dated 26th April, 2016 was filed before the Tahshildar,
could not give rise to a presupposition, inference or
assumption that the same was issued without necessary and
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proper enquiry. On the other hand, there is legal presumption
that the same was valid, having been issued by the
jurisdictional Tahshildar competent in that regard. The
circumstances, of the time of issue of E-stamps at about 5:27
P.M. or the date of affidavit being 26.04.2016, cannot be a just
basis to assume that the certificate was fraudulent, in the
face of the statutory provision making it explicit that it would
be valid until cancelled by the Caste Verification Committee.
Thus, the circumstances relied upon by the writ petitioners
were neither relevant nor sufficient to draw any inference on
fact, much less legal inference, so as to conclude that the
certificate was fraudulently issued. The fact that the appellant
belongs to “Kapu Caste”, which is notified as B Category
Backward Class; and the declaration regarding income made
by the appellant, are issues which are intrinsically mixed with
the issuance of the Income and Caste Certificate. It is not open
to question the validity of the said certificate much less to
entertain the prayer for issuance of a writ of quo warranto on
the assumption that the said certificate was fraudulent
because of some fortuitous circumstances. It was pointed out
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by the appellant that the writ of quo warranto is not an
ordinary power to be exercised by the High Court and moreso,
in the matter involving disputed questions of fact. The High
Court may be justified in issuing such a writ only if it is
indisputable that the elected public representative was
ineligible or disqualified to contest the election or had incurred
disqualification at a later point of time. In either case, such a
person cannot justify holding on to the public post such as
that of Adhyaksha. That situation will arise only if the Caste
Verification Committee was to invalidate and cancel the
Income and Caste Certificate issued in favour of the appellant
and not otherwise. On these contentions, the appellant prayed
for dismissal of the writ petition.
5. Preliminary objection regarding bar of jurisdiction in
terms of Article 243-O of the Constitution of India and locus of
the writ petitioners raised by the appellant commended to the
learned Single Judge, who dismissed the writ petition vide
judgment and order dated 21.10.2016.
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6. Being aggrieved by the dismissal of the writ petition, the
writ petitioners (respondent Nos.6 to 9 herein) carried the
matter in Writ Appeal No.101459 of 2016. The Division Bench
reversed the judgment of the learned Single Judge and allowed
the writ appeal vide judgment and order dated 05.06.2016. It
remanded the matter to the learned Single Judge for fresh
decision.
7. The appellant therefore, approached this Court by way of
Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.17059 of 2017 (converted to
Civil Appeal No.10587 of 2017) wherein the preliminary
objection regarding the bar under Article 243-O of the
Constitution of India and locus of the writ petitioners, as also
the contention that the only remedy to challenge the election
of the appellant would be an election petition, was reiterated.
The two-Judge Bench of this Court disposed of the appeal
preferred by the appellant on the finding that the voter of the
Panchayat cannot be rendered remediless and if he is
aggrieved by the election of the Adhyaksha of the Panchayat, it
is open to him to seek the remedy of judicial review under
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Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of the India. In such
proceedings, it is open to the High Court to undertake judicial
review of the subject matter. In paragraph 13 of its judgment,
this Court observed thus:
“13. It is thus clear that power of judicial review under
Articles 226/227 of the Constitution is an essential feature
of the Constitution which can neither be tinkered with nor
eroded. Even the Constitution cannot be amended to erode
the basic structure of the Constitution. Therefore, it cannot
be said that the writ petition filed by respondent Nos. 6 to 9
under Article 226 of the Constitution is not maintainable.
However, it is left to the discretion of the court exercising the
power under Articles 226/227 to entertain the writ petition.”
Again in paragraph 15, the Court observed thus:
“15. As noticed above, though respondent Nos. 6 to 9 are the
voters are not the members of the Zilla Panchayat. They are
aggrieved by the election of the appellant to the office of the
Adhyaksha. They cannot challenge the election of the
appellant to the office of Adhyaksha by filing an election
petition as they are not the members of the Zilla Panchayat
in question. In our view, a voter of the Zilla Panchayat who
is not a member cannot be denied an opportunity to
challenge the election to the office of Adhyaksha under
Articles 226/227 of the Constitution. Therefore, we hold
that the writ petition filed by respondent Nos. 6 to 9 before
the High Court is maintainable.”
After this decision, the preliminary objections regarding the
maintainability of writ petition stood concluded. An attempt
was made by the appellant to question the correctness of the
view expressed by this Court in the aforesaid decision.
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Concededly, even if the arguments of the appellant may
appear to be attractive, it cannot be entertained in relation to
the decision inter partes.
8. Be that as it may, in light of the view expressed by this
Court, the parties were relegated before the learned Single
Judge of the High Court. Before the remanded writ petition
was taken up for hearing by the learned Single Judge, the
appellant filed a writ petition bearing Writ Petition No.108700
of 2017 (LB-RES) before the High Court of Karnataka,
Dharwad Bench, challenging the note appended to the
notification dated 13.01.1995. That notification had been
issued by the State Government in exercise of powers
conferred under Section 2(2) of the Karnataka Panchayat Raj
Act, 1993, for classifying and notifying the classes of citizens
as Backward Class, for the purpose of reservation of seats and
office of Chairperson in Zilla Panchayat, Taluk Panchayat and
Gram Panchayat. The note predicates that no person falling
under category “B” would be entitled to the benefit of
reservation in the seats and office of Adhyaksha and Upa-
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Adhyaksha of Zilla Panchayat, Taluk Panchayat and Gram
Panchayat if, inter alia, he/she or either of his/her
parents/guardians was an income tax assessee/wealth tax
assessee (Clause ii). This stipulation has been assailed by the
appellant as being in the teeth of the exposition of this Court
in K. Krishna Murthy (Dr.) and Others Vs. Union of India
and Another1 and Indra Sawhney and Others Vs. Union of
India2. The High Court being prima facie convinced with the
said contention granted interim stay to the said stipulation
(Clause ii) in the notification dated 13.01.1995.
9. Reverting to the remanded writ petition from which the
present appeal arises as aforesaid, the same was to be heard
by the learned Single Judge on merits of the controversy for
grant of reliefs prayed in the writ petition including for
issuance of a writ of quo warranto. The learned Single Judge,
after examining the rival contentions and after taking note of
the original documents forming part of the original file

1 (2010) 7 SCC 202
2 (1992) Supp (3) SCC 210
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produced by the Government advocate, opined vide judgment
and order dated 21.09.2017 as under:
“11. Learned AGA appearing for respondents 1,3 to 5 filed
following documents pertaining to issuance of caste and
income certificate to respondent No. 6-Smt. Bharati Reddy
w/o Sri Thimmareddy for perusal of this Court.
1. Application dated 22.04.2016 for issue of caste and
income certificate (Xerox copy).
2. Notice dated 23.04.2016 issued by the Revenue
Inspector.
3. Report of the Revenue Inspector dated 26.04.2016
bearing No. Sam.Kam.Jaa and Aa Zi.
Pam.Chu/01/16-17 dated 26.04.2016.
4. Mahazar
5. Statement
6. Affidavit of the applicant sworn before the Advocate
Notary
7. Applicant‟s identity card (Xeroxcopy)
8. Applicant‟s voter identity card (Xerox copy)
9. Transfer Certificate (certified copy)
10. Study Certificate (certified copy)
11. Original Caste and Income Certificate bearing No.
Sam.Kam.01/06-07 dated 26.04.2016.
12. Form No. 24 regarding applicant‟s land holding.
12. On perusal of the documents it is seen that on
22.04.2016 the respondent No. 6 has filed application for
issue of caste and income certificate; on 23.04.2016 the
jurisdictional Revenue Inspector has issued notice to
respondent No. 6 pointing out the discrepancies with regard
to issuance of caste and income certificate; on 26.04.2016
the Revenue Inspector has submitted a report recommending
to issue caste certificate to the petitioner in Backward Caste
II(B); revenue inspector had conducted mahazar along with
the Village Accountant and opined that there is no objection
for issue of caste certificate to the petitioner in Backward
Caste II(B); statement of Smt. C. Bharathi w/o V.C. Thimma
Reddy before the Revenue Inspector; affidavit of Smt. C.
Bharathi w/o V.C. Thimma Reddy sworn before the
Advocate Notary, Ballari Tq. Rev. Area on 26.04.2016; Xerox
copy of the original voters‟ list of the year 2015; Xerox copy
of the voter‟s identity card; certified copy of the transfer
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certificate; certified copy of the study certificate and also the
original certificate issued by the Special Tahasildar,
Kurugodu, declaring the caste of the respondent No. 6 as
Kapu which comes under Backward Category „B‟ on
26.04.2016 so also the original of Form No. 24 regarding
holding of land by the respondent No. 6.
13. The entire process of issuance of caste certificate is
concluded in five days, i.e., application was filed on
22.04.2016 and the caste certificate was issued on
26.04.2016, which cannot be said to be illegal, as contended
by the learned counsel for respondent No.6. However, on
perusal of the affidavit filed by the respondent No. 6
before the Notary it is seen that the e-stamp paper is
purchased at 5.27 PM on 26.04.2016 and after purchase
affidavit was sworn before the Notary and on that day
itself the caste certificate is issued. It is also seen that
the date 26.04.2016 is over-written. This creates a
serious doubt about the process of issuance of caste
certificate by the respondent No.5.
14. The respondent No. 5 being a responsible officer of
the Revenue Department has issued the caste certificate
in a mortal hurry. The respondent No. 6 who purchased
the E-stamp paper on 26.04.2016 at 5.27 PM and on the
same day she files the affidavit on the E-Stamp paper before
the Advocate Notary and the same is submitted before the
Special Tahsildar and the Tahsildar after verification has
issued caste certificate to the respondent No.6, being the
contested candidate for the post of Adhyaksha of Zilla
Panchayat, Ballari. The same is found in the documents
produced by the learned AGA. From this process it can be
said that the respondent No. 5 being a responsible officer
has not taken care and diligence in issuing the caste
certificate and had adopted a casual working nature.
Whether this casual attitude of the respondent No.5 can
be said as illegality or negligence is to be considered in a
separate proceedings”.
(emphasis supplied)
Again, while dealing with the factual matrix of the case, the
learned Single Judge, in the same judgment, analysed the
issue as follows:
16
“35. In this writ petition the core issue relates to the holding of
the office of Adhyaksha of Zilla Panchayat, Ballari, by the
respondent No.6 and also seeking quashing of Annexure-H the
notification declaring the respondent No. 6 as Adhyaksha of
Zilla Panchayat Ballary. Therefore, the concept of creamy
layer as stated supra, does not come in the way of disposal of
this writ petition which is filed for issue of writ of quo
warranto against the respondent No. 6 to vacate the office of
the Adhyaksha of Zilla Panchayat, Ballary and also to quash
Annexure-H. In view of the same, the contention of the
respondent No.6 does not hold substance.
36. In the instant petition it is relevant to state that the
procedure of writ of quo warranto confers jurisdiction and
authority on the Court to control executive action in the
matter of making an appointment of a person to the public
office against the relevant statutory provisions. In the instant
case, the petitioners are the voters/electorates and so also the
whistle blowers. It is also relevant to state that, the writ of
Quo Warranto protects from illegal deprivation of public
office to which they may have a right and also it relates to
protect the public from usurping of public office by a
person who is not entitled to hold the public office as a
result of connivance of executive or that its active help,
wherein the respondent No. 5 being the responsible
Tahasildar, Kurugodu, issued caste certificate to
respondent No. 6, on the basis of which she was able to
contest and elect for the post of Adhyaksha of Zilla
Panchayat, Ballari. The respondent No.6 was contested and
elected for post of Zilla Panchayat Member from 13-
Badanahatti Constituency which was reserved for General
Category (Woman). In her affidavit (Annexure-E dated
06.2.2016) itself she has stated that she is an income tax
assessee and has even furnished PAN (permanent account
number). However, the said fact is suppressed in the
subsequent affidavit vide Annexure-F dated 26.04.2016
submitted before the Tahasildar, Kurugodu (respondent
No. 5) along with her application for obtaining Backward
Class B Community certificate.
xxx xxx xxx xxx
38… However, the respondent No.5 is under suspension
pending enquiry with regard to the procedure adopted by
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him in issuing the caste certificate to the respondent
No.6.
39. The respondent No.6 who is elected by a democratic
process, she belonged to Kapu caste, which caste falls under
Backward Class-B category, which is indicated in the
Government Notification dated 13.01.1995 of the Government
of Karnataka. However, now the issue is pending before the
Caste Verification Committee and that issue cannot be
decided under the jurisdiction of this court under Article
226 of the Constitution of India.
40…. whereas in the instant writ petition the Income Tax
Returns filed by the respondent No. 6 pertains to the year
2013-14. But she sworn in the affidavit that she is not an
assessee for the year 2015-16. It reflects the conduct of
the respondent No.6.”
(emphasis supplied)
Finally, the learned Single Judge concluded as under:
“42. It cannot be lost sight of the fact that, the E-stamp paper
was purchased at 5.57 pm on 26.04.2016 and the caste cum
income certificate was issued on the same day, which fact
reveals that the certificate was issued in a mortal hurry.
Accordingly, this writ petition is filed for issue of writ of Quo
Warranto in respect of quashing the proceedings vide
Annexure-H dated 29.04.2016 and also to direct the
respondent No. 6 to vacate the office of Adhyaksha of Zilla
Panchyat, Ballari.
43. Respondent No. 6 being a responsible member of Zilla
Panchayat, Ballari as she was the successful candidate elected
from 13 Badanahatti constituency which was reserved for
General Category (Woman) as per the notification dated
28.03.2016 published in Karnataka Gazatee. The post of
Adhyaksha of Zilla Panchayat was reserved for Backward
Category B Woman. The respondent No.6 belonged to Kapu
community which belongs to Category B Community.
However, the declaration regarding her family income
reveals that it is more than Rs.3,50,000/- p.a. that too
only from the rental income. This shows that the
respondent No. 6 files an affidavit to secure the caste and
income certificate from the respondent No.5, who issued
the certificate in a mortal hurry. This creates serious
doubt about the genuinity or otherwise of the process of
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issuing the caste certificate. However, the issue is now
pending before the Caste Verification Committee, which is
a fact finding committee and would be decided in its own
course. Hence, the question of fact as regarding the caste
of respondent No. 6 in this writ petition does not arise for
consideration.
In view of the aforesaid reasons, I am of the opinion, since the
respondent No. 6 has not declared her correct and proper
family income only with an intention to hold the post of
Adhyaksha which is a public office, must be prevented from
holding the office.”
(emphasis supplied)
On the said finding and after recording its opinion, the learned
Single Judge passed the following order:
“ORDER
Writ Petition is allowed in part. Accordingly, the
proceddings dated 29.04.2016 bearing No.
SUM./KAM/PraHaGu/ chunavana/05/2016-17 declaring
the 6th respondent as Adhyaksha of Zilla Panchayat, Ballari,
vide Annexure-H is hereby quashed. Consequently, writ of
quo warranto is issued directing the 6th respondent to vacate
the office of Adhyaksha, Zilla Panchayat, Ballari. Rest of
the prayers do not arise for consideration and
accordingly they are rejected.
The records submitted by the learned A.G.A. before
this court on 07.09.2017 are directed to be returned by
substituting them with Xerox copies.
The observations made in this Writ Petition is
restricted for disposal of this case and shall not have any
bearing regarding the pending litigation before the Caste
Verification Committee. The Caste Verification
Committee shall independently hold an enquiry and
dispose of the case in accordance with law”.
(emphasis supplied)
10. Aggrieved by the aforesaid decision, the appellant filed
Writ Appeal No.5872 of 2017. The writ petitioners (respondent
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Nos.6 to 9 herein) also filed a cross appeal being Writ Appeal
No.100657 of 2017. Both the appeals were heard and decided
together by the Division Bench of the High Court of
Karnataka, Dharwad Bench vide judgment and order dated
04.12.2017. The Division Bench broadly reiterated the view
expressed by the learned Single Judge and affirmed the
conclusion of the learned Single Judge both on factual and
legal matters. While analysing the factual matrix, the Division
Bench observed as follows:
35… “As narrated in the preceding paragraph Nos. 12 and
13, supra, the appellant filed an application before the
jurisdictional Tahsildar for issue of Caste cum Income
Certificate on 22.04.2016 in the prescribed format as per the
Notification dated 13.01.1995. On considering the same, the
jurisdictional Revenue Inspector has issued notice to the
appellant calling upon her to rectify the defects pointed out,
pursuant to which, the appellant filed an affidavit on
India, Non-Judicial, Government of Karnataka, e-stamp
paper issued on 26.04.2016 at 5.27 p.m. declaring that
the appellant and her husband are neither income tax
assesses nor sales tax assesses. Annexure-G to the Writ
Petition No. 106417/2016 is the application filed by the
appellant in the prescribed format in terms of the
notification dated 13.1.1995, whereby in Clause - 11, it
is stated that the applicant or their
father/mother/guardian are not the assessee of income
tax/wealth tax. This is the moot point which requires to
be considered to decide whether the appellant has
played any fraud on the constitution.”
(emphasis supplied)
20
11. Again in paragraph 36, the Division Bench noted as
follows:
“36. It is not in dispute that any affidavit filed before the
authorities has sanctity in the eye of law and the same, if
found to be false statement and misrepresentation, it is a
case of perjury punishable under criminal law. Based on the
statement declared by the appellant, the jurisdictional
Tahasildar has issued verification certificate certifying that
the appellant belongs to backward Class-B Category in terms
of the notification dated 13.1.1995. It is not in dispute that
the statements were made by the appellant on the E-stamp
paper issued on 26.04.2016 at 5.27 p.m. and the
jurisdictional Tahasildar has issued the certificate on the
very same day i.e. 26.04.2016, based on the application
bearing No. 01/16-17, dated 25.04.2016. Fraud played by
the appellant is manifest from the certificate issued by
the jurisdictional Tahasildar. Based on these facts, the
Government of Karnataka has now suspended the
jurisdictional Tahasildar for providing false certificate.
On 06.02.2016, the appellant swearing to an affidavit
that she is an income-tax assessee, furnishing the PAN
card details, subsequently giving statements before the
Revenue Inspector that she is not a PAN card holder and
not an income tax assessee prima facie proves the
fraudulent act of the appellant. In addition to that filing a
false affidavit in order to usurp a public office is highly
deplorable. In such circumstances, if the appellant is
continued to chair and hold the office of Adhyaksha, her
action would be fraud on the constitution….”
(emphasis supplied)
The other relevant extract of the impugned judgment of the
Division Bench in paragraph 44, reads thus:
“44. The issue relating to the caste, whether the
appellant belongs to Kapu caste or not is a disputed
question of fact. It is true that there is no absolute bar
under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India to
consider annulment of caste certificate de hors alternative
statutory remedy available provided the disputed question of
21
facts are not involved and the circumstances warrant
invoking of the extraordinary writ jurisdiction. The
judgments relied upon by the respondents on this point do
not assist the respondents since the matter is already
pending before the Caste Verification Committee, considering
this prayer at this stage would be, entertaining the parallel
proceedings which is not tenable. The determination of
caste requires a full-fledged enquiry, as such the learned
single judge directing the caste verification committee,
to proceed with the matter cannot be found fault with.
Confirming the order of the learned single Judge, we direct
the Caste Verification Committee to proceed with the matter
in accordance with law without being influenced by any of
the observations made above. All rights and contentions of
the parties are left open. Caste Verification Committee shall
decide the matter in an expedite manner.
In the result, both the appeals stand dismissed.”
(emphasis supplied)
12. We have heard Mr. C.A. Sundaram, learned Senior
Counsel appearing for the appellant and Dr. Rajeev Dhawan &
Mr. S.M. Chander Shekhar, learned Senior Counsel appearing
for the respondents.
13. It is indisputable that the post of Adhyaksha of Zilla
Panchayat is a public office in relation to which a writ of quo
warranto can be issued, if the post is occupied by a person
who is not eligible to be so appointed or incurs disqualification
to continue to occupy the post. Indeed, when a statutory
remedy is provided for removal of disqualified person from the
22
public office who is allegedly usurper of public office, the writ
court would be ordinarily slow in interfering, much less,
issuing a writ of quo warranto. The Constitution Bench of this
Court in the case of The University of Mysore and Another
Vs. C.D. Govinda Rao and Another3 has observed thus.
“6. The judgment of the High Court does not indicate that the
attention of the High Court was drawn to the technical
nature of the writ of quo warranto which was claimed by
the respondent in the present proceedings, and the
conditions which had to be satisfied before a writ could
issue in such proceedings.
7. As Halsbury has observed :
„An information in the nature of a quo warranto
took the place of the obsolete writ of quo warranto
which lay against a person who claimed or
usurped an office, franchise, or liberty, to inquire
by what authority he supported his claim, in order
that the right to the office or franchise might be
determined.‟
8. Broadly stated, the quo warranto proceeding affords a
judicial remedy by which any person, who holds an
independent substantive public office or franchise or liberty, is
called upon to show by what right he holds the said office,
franchise or liberty, so that his title to it may be duly
determined, and in case the finding is that the holder of the
office has no title, he would be ousted from that office by
judicial order. In other words, the procedure of quo warranto
gives the Judiciary a weapon to control the Executive from
making appointment to public office against law and to protect
a citizen from being deprived of public office to which he has a

3 (1964) 4 SCR 575
23
right. These proceedings also tend to protect the public from
usurpers of public office, who might be allowed to continue
either with the connivance of the Executive or by reason of its
apathy. It will, thus, be seen that before a person can
effectively claim a writ of quo warranto, he has to
satisfy the Court that the office in question is a public
office and is held by a usurper without legal authority,
and that inevitably would lead to the enquiry as to
whether the appointment of the alleged usurper has
been made in accordance with law or not.”
(emphasis supplied)
14. The moot question in the present case is: whether the
High Court, in the facts of the present case, was justified in
invoking its extraordinary jurisdiction to issue a writ of quo
warranto? Let us advert to the assertion made in the writ
petition in support of such a relief claimed by the respondent
Nos.6 to 9. The relevant paragraphs have been extracted in
paragraph 3 of this judgment, being paragraphs 6 and 7 of the
writ petition. The case of the writ petitioners was that the
appellant, in order to grab the post of Adhyaksha of Zilla
Panchayat, submitted a bogus and false certificate indicating
that she belongs to the backward community-B category,
which was surreptitiously obtained from respondent No.5. In
support of this plea, the crux of the allegation is that a false,
incorrect and misleading declaration was given by the
24
appellant in respect of her financial status and income. In
that, in the first affidavit dated 6th February, 2016 she had
declared that she was receiving rent of Rs. One lakh forty
thousand per annum and her husband was receiving rent of
Rs. Four lakh eighty thousand per annum. Whereas in the
second affidavit dated 26th April, 2016 filed in support of the
application for grant of Income and Caste Certificate, she has
stated that the annual income of her family was only Rs. Three
lakh fifty thousand; and that she and her husband were not
paying income tax and commercial tax. According to the writ
petitioners, this declaration was false to the knowledge of the
appellant. Further, the caste certificate was issued on the
same day of the application without any proper inquiry as
required under the law. On these assertions, the matter
proceeded before the High Court. We will advert to the
explanation offered by the appellant a little later.
15. First, we must notice the other material which had come
on record during the hearing of the writ petition and which
weighed with the High Court. During the hearing, the original
25
official file relating to the grant of caste certificate to the
appellant was produced by the Government Advocate, as noted
in paragraph 11 of the judgment of the learned Single Judge
and extracted in paragraph 9 above. On analyzing the
documents contained in the original file, it is noticed that the
certificate was not granted to the appellant on the same day of
the application as alleged but it took almost five days‟ time for
processing the application and for its issuance. In that, first, a
notice was issued by the Revenue Inspector, then, a report of
the Revenue Inspector was obtained, Mahazar was prepared,
statement was recorded, and then affidavit of the appellant
came to be filed along with other documents, as has been
noted in the original file.
16. The concurrent finding recorded by the learned Single
Judge and the Division Bench of the High Court is that the
process of issuance of the certificate to the appellant by the
jurisdictional Authority was done in a mortal hurry. This
inference has been drawn by the High Court in light of the
facts revealed from the original official file - that the appellant
26
purchased stamp paper for preparing affidavit at 5.27 p.m. on
26th April, 2016 and used the same for notarization and also
submitted it to the respondent No.5, who then issued the
caste certificate on the same day i.e. 26th April, 2016. The
Court has also noted that there was some overwriting in
relation to the date. After adverting to these circumstances,
the High Court opined that there was something seriously
wrong about the process adopted by the respondent No.5 for
issuance of caste certificate, which was obviously done to
favour the appellant who could then contest the election. The
High Court also noted that the respondent No.5 who had
issued the stated certificate was later on suspended, pending
departmental enquiry against him in reference to the selfsame
certificate issued to the appellant. Additionally, the High
Court has found that there was discrepancy in the two
affidavits filed by the appellant, which is in the nature of
suppression and non-disclosure of material financial
information. Finally, the High Court concluded that since the
issue regarding the validity of Income and Caste Certificate
was pending before the Caste Verification Committee, which
27
was a fact finding Committee, the Committee would decide the
same on its own merits. Notably, the High Court did not quash
the caste certificate as being void but left it open to the Caste
Verification Committee to proceed in accordance with law.
17. It is pertinent to mention that the Division Bench of the
High Court, while deciding Writ Appeal No.101459 of 2016,
vide judgment dated 5th June, 2017, has recorded in Para 12
of the judgment that there is no dispute as to the caste status
of the appellant herein; that she belongs to “Kapu” Caste is
not at all in dispute. Considering the above, the issue before
the Caste Verification Committee would essentially be one
relating to the income eligibility of the appellant. That may be
a mixed question of fact and law. Presumably, therefore, the
High Court stopped short of quashing the Income and Caste
Certificate issued in favour of the appellant as being void.
18. In this backdrop, the controversy will have to be analysed
so as to determine whether the High Court was justified in
issuing a writ of quo warranto in such a situation. Interfering
in exercise of writ jurisdiction is limited to judicial review of
28
the decision making process and not of the decision itself. In
this case, the final decision regarding the validity of Income
and Caste Certificate issued to the appellant has been
advisedly kept open, thereby the same, in law and in fact, is
still valid and in force. There is statutory presumption that
such caste certificate shall be valid until it is cancelled by the
Competent Authority. However, the only logic that can be
deduced from the contemplation done by the learned Single
Judge and the Division Bench of the High Court, is that the
process followed by the respondent No.5 for issuing the stated
certificate to the appellant is replete with serious doubt and,
therefore, is prima facie fraudulent.
19. In other words, the existence of the caste certificate or for
that matter the fact that it has been so issued by the
respondent No.5, is not doubted or in dispute. It is not a case
of appellant relying on a non-existing or officially non-issued
caste certificate. Thus, enquiry will have to be made about the
circumstances warranting issuance of stated certificate in a
tearing hurry by the respondent No.5, allegedly to favour the
29
appellant. The other aspect is about the discrepancies in the
two affidavits submitted by the appellant and including the
suppression and non-disclosure of her truthful financial
information.
20. Indubitably, both these aspects will be the subject matter
of the enquiry before the Caste Verification Committee, being
intrinsically mixed with the question of validity of the stated
certificate. Appellant had offered explanation on both these
matters. Regarding the factum of mortal hurry allegedly
displayed by the respondent No.5 in issuing the caste
certificate, she contends that it was not issued on the same
day as alleged but after due enquiry. That is evinced from the
original official file produced before the Court. In that, the
application was made on 22nd April, 2016 whence the process
commenced and then concluded on 26th April, 2016. The
process was required to be completed expeditiously as the
certificate was required for contesting the impending election
of Adhyaksha scheduled on 29th April, 2016. This explanation
certainly will have to be examined by the Caste Verification
30
Committee, before invalidating the caste certificate on the
ground that proper procedure was not followed. For the
present, suffice it to observe that the mere fact that the
certificate was issued in a short span of five days from the
date of the application, per se, does not lead to an inference
that the required procedure has not been followed.
21. The fact as to whether necessary procedure has been
complied with or not will be one aspect of the enquiry before
the Caste Verification Committee, apart from the core aspect of
whether in fact the appellant fulfills the income and financial
criteria. The mere fact that the caste certificate has been
issued within a short span of five days albeit after following
due procedure, can be no just basis to invalidate the certificate
by the Caste Verification Committee. The said Committee will
be obliged to record a clear finding of fact about the eligibility
of the appellant in reference to her financial status and
income, keeping in mind the purport of Clause (ii) of the Note
to Notification dated 13th January, 1995. While considering
that matter, the Committee will have to make an enquiry as to
31
whether the appellant or her parent(s)/guardian(s) “is” an
income tax assessee /wealth tax assessee on the date of
issuance of the certificate. As regards this fact, Caste
Verification Committee will have to examine the correctness
and efficacy of the two affidavits in its proper perspective
known to law. According to the appellant, there is no
discrepancy in the disclosures made by her in the two
declarations concerning her financial matters at the relevant
time. The first affidavit dated 6th February, 2016, correctly
discloses the fact that the appellant possessed PAN Card and
was an income tax assessee, having paid income tax for the
Financial Year 2013-14. The second affidavit dated 26th April,
2016 is also accurate and discloses the correct financial
position wherein it is stated that the annual income of her
family is Rs. Three lakh fifty thousand from all the sources;
and neither she nor her husband are income tax and
commercial tax payers in reference to the Financial Year
(2015-16), for which the affidavit was sworn on 26th April,
2016. It is also contended by the appellant that Clause (ii) of
the Note posits two aspects:- the first is that the incumbent or
32
either of his/her parents/guardian should not be an income
tax or wealth tax “assessee” at the relevant time. The
expression used in this clause, “is” an income tax
assessee/wealth tax assessee, pre supposes that it is in
praesenti and for the relevant period. Secondly, the incumbent
must necessarily fall within the expression “assessee” given in
the concerned tax laws. That means only a person, by whom
any tax or any other sum of money is payable under the Act
for the concerned period and not otherwise. No material has
been produced or is forthcoming that the appellant, or for that
matter, her husband, had paid any tax or are liable to pay tax
or a sum of money under the concerned tax legislation, for the
relevant period i.e. Financial Year 2015-16. Absence of such
evidence, the Income and Caste Certificate issued to the
appellant cannot be invalidated. Furthermore, the income of
her husband / spouse is not a relevant fact for issuance of the
Income and Caste Certificate. For, Clause (ii) excludes benefit
only if the incumbent or either of his/her parent/guardian is
an income tax assessee or wealth tax assessee. This provision
will have to be interpreted strictly, as in the case of provision
33
for any other disqualification. The appellant also asserts that
there is no discrepancy or for that matter suppression or nondisclosure
of financial information in the declarations
submitted by her. In any case, that would be a disputed
question of fact and per se concerning the issue of validity of
Income and Caste Certificate.
22. According to the appellant, as long as the Income and
Caste Certificate is valid and in force, which has only been
doubted by the High Court having been issued by the
respondent No.5 in a mortal hurry, the matter must rest at
that. We find force in the submission of the appellant that all
these issues will be the subject matter during the enquiry into
the question of validity of the stated Income and Caste
Certificate, which is pending before the Caste Verification
Committee. Even the High Court was conscious of this
position and perhaps, therefore, did not quash or set aside the
Income and Caste Certificate as being void. A writ of quo
warranto cannot be issued on the basis of assumptions,
inferences or suspicion regarding the factum of fulfillment of
34
eligibility criteria. Being an extraordinary power, ordinarily
such a writ ought to be issued only on the basis of
indisputable facts leading to a singular conclusion that the
incumbent was in fact or in law disqualified to occupy the
public office or has incurred disqualification to continue to
remain therein. Only whence such a person would fall within
the description of an usurper of public office without legal
authority. On the other hand, for a person possessing an
Income and Caste Certificate issued by the jurisdictional
Authority and so long as it is valid and in force, in fact and in
law, treating such a person as usurper of the public office and
occupying it without legal authority, cannot be countenanced.
In our opinion, the High Court had plainly erred in engaging
itself in an enquiry into a prohibited area which is already the
subject matter of the proceedings pending before the Caste
Verification Committee, without realizing that the observations
made by it were inherently bound to influence the Committee
from taking a just and proper decision in accordance with law
irrespective of its observation to decide without being
influenced by its decision.
35
23. Strikingly, neither the learned Single Judge nor the
Division Bench of the High Court thought it appropriate to
quash and set aside the Income and Caste Certificate as being
void. If the High Court was to allow that relief or other reliefs
claimed by the writ petitioners in entirety after a full-fledged
enquiry, the correctness of that approach could have been
tested on a different scale. We must immediately clarify that
we may not be understood to have said that such a course was
open to the High Court. That issue does not arise in this
appeal.
24. As aforementioned, the High Court stopped short of
concluding that the Income and Caste Certificate issued to the
appellant is void. It merely expressed a prima facie opinion that the
process adopted by the respondent No.5 to issue the Income and
Caste Certificate to the appellant created a serious doubt. At best,
it observed that the appellant was instrumental in playing fraud
upon the jurisdictional Authority and/or the said Authority
colluded with the appellant, by surreptitiously issuing the Income
and Caste Certificate to the appellant. But, finally, it has left the
36
question regarding the validity of the certificate open to be decided
by the Caste Verification Committee, in the pending proceedings,
dealing with the factum of validity of the certificate issued to the
appellant. Having said this, the High Court could not have issued
a writ of quo warranto. That writ could be issued only if the Income
and Caste Certificate was held to be void or after it was invalidated
by the Competent Authority.
25. The distinction between a void and voidable order was
considered in the case of Nawabkhan Abbaskhan Vs. State of
Gujarat.4 The Court noted the dictum of Rubinstein that, when
an act is not voidable but void, it is a nullity and can be
disregarded and impeached in any proceedings, before any Court
or Tribunal and whenever it is relied upon. In other words, it is
made subject to „collateral attack‟. The Court observed that illegal
act of authorities, if can be defied on self-determined voidness,
startling consequences will follow. It, however, made an exception
of cases where the order is passed by the jurisdictional authority
without hearing the party affected, which entails injury to a

4
 (1974) 2 SCC 121
37
Constitutionally guaranteed right to the affected party. It held that
such orders may be treated as void and ineffectual to bind the
parties from the beginning. That is not the case on hand. The
underlying principle is that, in cases such as the one under
consideration, the Income and Caste Certificate can only be
invalidated after affording opportunity to the holder of the
certificate. It will be useful to reproduce the legal position summed
up by the Court in paragraph 18 as follows:
“18. …………Decisions are legion where the conditions for
the exercise of power have been contravened and the order
treated as void. And when there is excess or error of
jurisdiction the end product is a semblance, not an
actual order, although where the error is within
jurisdiction it is good, particularly when a finality clause
exists. The order becomes „infallible in error‟, a peculiar legal
phenomenon like the hybrid beast of voidable voidness for
which, according to a learned author, Lord Denning is
largely responsible. The legal chaos in this branch of
jurisprudence should be avoided by evolving simpler
concepts which work in practice in Indian conditions.
Legislation, rather than judicial law-making will meet
the needs more adequately. The only safe course, until
simple and sure light is shed from a legislative source, is
to treat as void and ineffectual to bind parties, from the
beginning, any order made without hearing the party
affected if the injury is to a constitutionally guaranteed
right. In other cases, the order in violation of natural
justice is void in the limited sense of being liable to be
avoided by Court with retroactive force.”
(emphasis supplied)
38
As the subject certificate still holds the field and until it is
invalidated by the Competent Authority, it is unfathomable as to
how the appellant can be said to have occupied the public office
without legal authority so as to invoke the extraordinary writ
jurisdiction of issuing a writ of quo warranto.
26. In K. Venkatachalam Vs. A. Swamickan5, the challenge
was to the election of the appellant to the Legislative Assembly in
Tamil Nadu by way of a writ under Article 226 of the Constitution
filed by the contesting candidate (respondent therein) for a
declaration that the appellant was not qualified to be a Member of
Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, since he was not enrolled as an
elector in the electoral roll in the concerned constituency for the
general elections in question. The Court analysed the factual
matrix which pointed out that, admittedly, the incumbent was not
an elector of the concerned constituency and that he blatantly and
fraudulently impersonated himself as another elector in the
constituency. Accepting that indisputable position, the Court
proceeded to conclude that the appellant was not eligible to
contest elections from the concerned constituency, not being a

5 AIR 1999 SC 1723 = (1999) 4 SCC 526
39
voter in that constituency. It thus held that the appellant therein
lacked the basic qualification under Clause (c) of Article 173 of the
Constitution of India read with Section 5 of the 1951 Act, which
was quintessential to be elected from the constituency. On such
finding, the Court entertained the writ petition under Article 226
and declared the appellant to be occupying the public office
without legal authority and issued a writ of quo warranto. In other
words, the matter was decided on the basis of indisputable and
established facts. This judgment will be of no avail to the writ
petitioners in the present case, so long as the Income and Caste
Certificate issued to the appellant is in force.
27. In Kurapati Maria Das Vs. Ambedkar Seva Samajan6 the
Court distinguished the decision in K. Venkatachalam (supra)
being on the facts of that case and reversed the judgment of the
High Court under challenge, whereby a writ of quo warranto was
issued against the appellant therein. The reason for doing so may
have some bearing on the matter in issue as in that case, there
was dispute about the caste status of the appellant. The Court

6 (2009) 7 SCC 387
40
opined that the issue regarding the caste status can be decided
only by the Competent Authority under the relevant enactment
and not by the High Court. The Court accepted the contention of
the appellant that continuance of the post of Chairperson
depended directly on his election, firstly, as a ward member and
secondly as the Chairperson, which election was available only to
the person belonging to the Scheduled Caste. In paragraph 32 of
the reported decision, the Court while accepting the contention of
the appellant noted that the question of caste and his election are
so inextricably connected that they cannot be separated and
therefore, when the writ petitioners challenged the continuation of
the appellant on the ground of his not belonging to a particular
caste what they actually challenged was the validity of the election
of appellant though, apparently, the petition was for a writ of quo
warranto.
28. We agree with this exposition. It applies on all fours to the
case on hand. Inasmuch as, what the writ petitioners (respondents
6 to 9) had questioned was the correctness of the declarations
submitted by the appellant about her financial status and income
41
which, according to them was beyond the prescribed limit and
disentitled the appellant to get the Income cum Caste Certificate.
The firm stand taken by the appellant is that there was no
discrepancy between the two declarations muchless indicative of
excess income of the appellant at the relevant time. In our opinion,
there is no tittle of material forthcoming to show that in fact, the
appellant or her parents/guardians had paid income tax or wealth
tax during the relevant Financial Year 2015-16. That indeed could
have disentitled the appellant from getting an Income and Caste
Certificate. This submission of the appellant is founded on the
setting in which Clause (ii) of the Note has been placed and is
attracted only to an income tax assessee/wealth tax assessee as
per the relevant taxation laws during the current period. An
assessee is a person who pays taxes or is liable to pay tax or any
other sum of money payable by him/her. The argument is that the
fact that the appellant has been issued PAN number or has filed
tax return and paid tax in the past will be of no consequence and
does not impair or impinge upon the eligibility of the appellant to
get an Income and Caste Certificate for the relevant period in any
manner. As noted earlier, these are matters to be considered by
42
the Caste Verification Committee and only if rejected, the caste
certificate in question could be invalidated. Until a final decision is
taken by the Caste Verification Committee, in law, it will have to
be presumed that subject certificate is valid and in force in view of
the statutory provision making it explicit to that effect.
29. In the case of Arun Singh alias Arun Kr. Singh Vs. State
of Bihar and Others7, this Court over turned the decision of the
High Court issuing a writ of quo warranto, on the ground that it
was unclear from the orders passed by the Superintendence of
Police or the District Magistrate, or for that matter, the State
Election Commissioner, suggestive of the fact that the appellant
therein was held to have committed any misconduct within the
meaning of the Service Rules. In paragraph 13, the Court observed
thus:
“13. ……..No cogent or sufficient reasons have been given
by the High Court for setting aside the well-considered order
of the State Election Commission. Furthermore, issuance of
a writ of quo warranto is discretionary and such a writ
should be issued only upon a clear finding that the
appointment to a public office was contrary to the
statute. For the said purpose it was obligatory on the part of
the High Court to arrive at a finding that the disqualifying
clause contained in Section 139(1)(f) was squarely attracted
in the case of the appellant, in the light of the order of the

7 (2006) 9 SCC 375
43
State Election Commission. Evidently, the appellant was not
disqualified.”
30. In B.R. Kapur Vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Anr.8 the
Constitution Bench was called upon to consider the situation
where a person convicted for a criminal offence and whose
conviction has not been suspended pending appeal, could be
sworn in as the Chief Minister of a State and continue to function
as such. The Court was called upon to answer the controversy on
the basis of indisputable fact that the incumbent Chief Minister
had already been convicted of a criminal offence and such
conviction had not been suspended in the pending criminal
appeal. After considering the purport of Article 164 and Article 173
of the Constitution, the Court concluded that the appointment of
the second respondent in the appeal as the Chief Minister was in
clear violation of the constitutional provisions and thus a writ of
quo warranto was inevitable. The substratum of the exposition was
the factum of basic ineligibility of the person to be appointed or
continue as Chief Minister. In a concurring judgment by Brijesh
Kumar, J. (as His Lordship then was) the nature of writ of quo
warranto has been explicated in the following words:

8 (2001) 7 SCC 231
44
“79. ……A writ of quo warranto is a writ which lies against
the person, who according to the relator is not entitled to
hold an office of public nature and is only a usurper of the
office. It is the person, against whom the writ of quo
warranto is directed, who is required to show, by what
authority that person is entitled to hold the office. The
challenge can be made on various grounds, including on the
grounds that the possessor of the office does not fulfil the
required qualifications or suffers from any disqualification,
which debars the person to hold such office. So as to have
an idea about the nature of action in the proceedings for writ
of quo warranto and its original form, as it used to be, it
would be beneficial to quote from Words and Phrases,
Permanent Edn., Vol. 35-A, p. 648. It reads as follows:
“The original common law writ of quo warranto
was a civil writ at the suit of the Crown, and not a
criminal prosecution. It was in the nature of a writ
of right by the King against one who usurped or
claimed franchises or liabilities, to inquire by what
right he claimed them. This writ, however, fell into
disuse in England centuries ago, and its place was
supplied by an information in the nature of a quo
warranto, which in its origin was a criminal
method of prosecution, as well as to punish the
usurper by a fine for the usurpation of the
franchise, as to oust him or seize it for the Crown.
Long before our revolution, however, it lost its
character as a criminal proceeding in everything
except form, and was applied to the mere purposes
of trying the civil right, seizing the franchise, or
ousting the wrongful possessor, the fine being
nominal only; and such, without any special
legislation to that effect, has always been its
character in many of the States of the Union, and
it is therefore a civil remedy only.”
45
80. In the same volume of Words and Phrases, Permanent
Edn., at p. 647 we find as follows:
“The writ of „quo warranto‟ is not a substitute for
mandamus or injunction nor for an appeal or
writ of error, and is not to be used to prevent an
improper exercise of power lawfully possessed,
and its purpose is solely to prevent an officer or
corporation or persons purporting to act as such
from usurping a power which they do not have.
State ex inf. McKittrick v. Murphy9
Information in the nature of „quo warranto‟ does
not command performance of official functions
by any officer to whom it may run, since it is not
directed to officer as such, but to person holding
office or exercising franchise, and not for purpose
of dictating or prescribing official duties, but only
to ascertain whether he is rightfully entitled to
exercise functions claimed. State ex inf. Walsh v.
Thatcher10.”
(emphasis supplied)
81. In Halsbury‟s Laws of England, 4th Edn., Reissue Vol. I,
p. 368, para 265 it is found as follows:
“265. In general.—An information in the nature of a
quo warranto took the place of the obsolete writ of quo
warranto which lay against a person who claimed or
usurped an office, franchise, or liberty, to inquire by
what authority he supported his claim, in order that
the right to the office or franchise might be
determined.”

9 148 SW 2d 527, 529, 530 : 347 Mo 484
10 102 SW 2d 937, 938 : 340 Mo 865
46
31. In the case of High Court of Gujarat and Anr. Vs. Gujarat
Kishan Mazdoor Panchayat and Ors.
11 (supra) in a concurring
judgment S.B. Sinha, J. (as His Lordship then was) noted that the
High Court in exercise of its writ jurisdiction in a matter of this
nature is required to determine at the outset as to whether a case
has been made out for issuance of a writ of certiorari or a writ of
quo warranto. However, the jurisdiction of the High Court to issue
a writ of quo warranto is a limited one. While issuing such a writ,
the Court merely makes a public declaration but will not consider
the respective impact of the candidates or other factors which may
be relevant for issuance of a writ of certiorari. The Court went on
to observe that a writ of quo warranto can only be issued when the
appointment is contrary to the statutory rules as held in Mor
Modern Coop. Transport Society Ltd. Vs. Financial Commr. &
Secy. To Government of Haryana12. The Court also took notice
of the exposition in R.K. Jain Vs. Union of India13. The Court
noted that with a view to find out as to whether a case has been
made out for issuance of quo warranto, the only question which

11 (2003) 4 SCC 712
12 (2002) 6 SCC 269
13 (1993) 4 SCC 119
47
was required to be considered was as to whether the incumbent
fulfilled the qualifications laid down under the statutory provisions
or not. This is the limited scope of inquiry. Applying the underlying
principle, the Court ought not to enquire into the merits of the
claim or the defence or explanation offered by the appellant
regarding the manner of issuance of Income and Caste Certificate
by the jurisdictional Authority or any matter related thereto which
may be matter in issue for scrutiny concerning the validity of the
Caste Certificate issued by the jurisdictional statutory authority
constituted under the State Act of 1990 and the rules framed
thereunder. That inquiry may require examination of all factual
aspects threadbare including the legality of the stand taken by the
appellant herein.
32. In the case of Chairman and Managing Director, Food
Corporation of India and Others Vs. Jagdish Balaram Bahira
and Others14, the question was in reference to the Caste
Certificate which was invalidated after the verification done by the
jurisdictional Scrutiny Committee. The observations in the said

14 (2017) 8 SCC 670
48
decision may be of some import, if the Caste Verification
Committee was to invalidate the Caste Certificate issued to the
appellant after due verification. As a matter of fact, the enquiry
before the Caste Verification Committee ought to proceed in terms
of the procedure prescribed by the Act of 1990 and Rules framed
thereunder and including the dictum of this Court in, amongst
others Madhuri Patil Vs. Commr., Tribal Development15.
33. In Rajesh Awasthi Vs. Nand Lal Jaiswal and Ors.16, the
Court noted that a writ of quo warranto will lie when the
appointment is made contrary to the statutory provisions as held
in the case of Mor Modern Coop. Transport Society Ltd. (supra)
Further, relying on the decision in the cases of B. Srinivasa
Reddy Vs. Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage
Board Employees Asson.17 and Hari Bansh Lal Vs. Sahodar
Prasad Mahto18, wherein the legal position has been restated that
the jurisdiction of the High Court to issue a writ of quo warranto is
a limited one which can only be issued if the appointment is

15 (1994) 6 SCC 241
16 (2013) 1 SCC 501
17 (2006) 11 SCC 731
18 (2010) 9 SCC 655
49
contrary to the statutory rules and the Court has to satisfy itself
that the appointment is contrary to the statutory rules. In that
case, the Court after analysing the factual matrix found, as of fact,
that there was non-compliance of sub-Section (5) of Section 85 of
the Electricity Act, 2003, in the matter of appointment of the
incumbent to the post of Chairperson of the Commission for which
it became necessary to issue a writ of quo warranto. In the
supplementing judgment by one of us Dipak Misra, J. (as His
Lordship then was), the settled legal position expounded in B.R.
Kapur (supra), University of Mysore (supra), High Court of
Gujarat (supra), Centre for PIL Vs. Union of India19 has been
recapitulated in paragraphs 29 to 33 of the reported decision.
34. We have adverted to some of those decisions in the earlier
part of this judgment. Suffice, it to observe that unless the Court
is satisfied that the incumbent was not eligible at all as per the
statutory provisions for being appointed or elected to the public
office or that he/she has incurred disqualification to continue in
the said office, which satisfaction should be founded on the

19 (2011) 4 SCC 1
50
indisputable facts, the High Court ought not to entertain the
prayer for issuance of a writ of quo warranto.
35. In the case of K. Krishna Murthy (Dr.) (supra) the
Constitution Bench of this Court examined two questions as noted
in paragraph 9 of the reported judgment, which read thus:
“9. In light of the submissions that have been
paraphrased in the subsequent paragraphs, the contentious
issues in this case can be framed in the following manner:
(i) Whether Article 243-D(6) and Article 243_T(6) are
constitutionally valid since they enable reservations in
favour of backward classes for the purpose of occupying
seats and chairperson positions in panchayats and
municipalities respectively?
(ii) Whether Article 243-D(4) and Article 243-T(4) are
constitutionally valid since they enable the reservation of
chairperson positions in panchayats and municipalities
respectively?”
The Court opined that the objectives of democratic decentralisation
are not only to bring governance closer to the people, but also to
make it more participatory, inclusive and accountable to the
weaker sections of society. The Court went on to observe that
reservations in local self-government are intended to directly
benefit the community as a whole, rather than just the elected
51
representatives. It is for this very reason that there cannot be an
exclusion of the “creamy layer” in the context of political
representation. It also noted that while exclusion of the “creamy
layer” may be feasible as well as desirable in the context of
reservations for education and employment, the same principle
cannot be extended to the context of local self-government.
We may note that this decision may be of relevance to the
appellant to pursue his remedy before the High Court in the writ
petition No.108700 of 2017, questioning the validity of Clause (ii)
of the notification dated 13.01.1995 providing for exclusion of
“creamy layer” against the reserved category. We may, however,
without any hesitation record that the High Court had justly
negatived the argument of the appellant which was founded on the
interim relief granted by the High Court in the stated writ petition
on the ground that the same cannot validate an action which was
illegal so as to alter the eligibility criteria for contesting the election
of Adhyaksha conducted on 26th April, 2016.
We do not intend to express any opinion either way on the pending
issues in that proceedings, which are not the subject
52
matter of this appeal. The High Court is free to deal with that writ
petition on its own merits in accordance with law.
36. This, however, will make no difference to the conclusion
which we must reach in this case that the High Court could not
have issued a writ of quo warranto until the Income and Caste
Certificate issued in favour of the appellant, on the basis of which
she participated in the election for the post of Adhyaksha and got
elected, was to be declared void or invalidated by the Caste
Scrutiny Committee. We do not wish to dilate on other incidental
aspects/arguments as the same will not have any bearing on the
conclusion noted above.

37. In a matter of this nature, the High Court, having kept open
the issue regarding the validity of the Income and Caste Certificate
to be decided by the jurisdictional Caste Verification Committee
and finding no legal basis to declare the certificate as void ab initio
or choosing to do so, ought to have instead directed the Caste
Verification Committee to expedite the enquiry and conclude the
same in a time bound manner. The course adopted by the High
53
Court has only prolonged the consideration of that issue by the
competent authority and embroiled the parties in avoidable
proceedings.
38. Accordingly, we allow this appeal and set aside the decisions
of the learned Single Judge and the Division Bench of the High
Court which are impugned in the present appeal. We, however,
dispose of the writ petition filed by the respondents 6 to 9 being
Writ Petition No.106417 of 2016 only by directing the Caste
Verification Committee to expedite the enquiry regarding the
validity of the Income and Caste Certificate issued to the appellant
by respondent no.5 and conclude the same preferably within two
months and also intimate its final decision to the appellant within
the same time. Needless to observe that the Caste Scrutiny
Committee will decide the matter on its own merit and without
being influenced whatsoever by any observations made in the
impugned judgments but in accordance with law. Besides, it shall
deal with every contention raised before it by recording tangible
reasons. 
54
39. The appeal is allowed in the aforementioned terms with no
order as to costs.
.………………………….CJI.
(Dipak Misra)
…………………………..….J.
 (A.M. Khanwilkar)
 …………………………..….J.
 (Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud)
New Delhi;
March 6, 2018.

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