SC lays down norms for determining SC/ST status
Tuesday, 08 November 2011 22:53
Pioneer News Service | New Delhi
Growing modernisation and migration of people across the country has
forced the Supreme Court to change the rules for determination of
caste status of Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
In a judgement delivered on Tuesday, the Supreme Court held that if a
person fails to show affinity to the traditions, customs and practices
of his ancestral community, caste or tribe, his caste/tribe claim
cannot be discounted if there is documentary evidence to prove the
It said, "The affinity test may not be regarded as a litmus test for
establishing the link of the applicant with a Scheduled Tribe.
Nevertheless, the claim by an applicant that he is part of a Scheduled
Tribe and is entitled to the benefit extended to that tribe, cannot
per se be disregarded on the ground that his present traits do not
match his tribes' particular anthropological and ethnological traits,
deity, rituals, customs, mode of marriage, death ceremonies, method of
burial of dead bodies, etc."
The bench of Justices DK Jain and AK Ganguly passed this order while
deciding the appeal filed by one Anand, a resident of Maharashtra, who
claimed to be from Halbi Scheduled Tribe. The Committee for Scrutiny
and Verification of Tribal Claims, Amravati, however, rejected his
claim, a decision that was subsequently upheld by the Nagpur bench of
Bombay High Court on May 5, 2004. Following this, Anand approached the
Reversing the HC order, the SC bench said, "A few decades ago, when
the tribes were somewhat immune to the cultural development happening
around them, the affinity test could serve as a determinative factor.
However, with the migrations, modernisation and contact with other
communities, these communities tend to develop and adopt new traits
which may not essentially match with the traditional characteristics
of the tribe."
The court relied on the fact that Anand possessed documentary proof to
substantiate his claim. Holding this to his advantage, the bench laid
down broad parameters to decide on validity of caste or tribe claims.
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