New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that
anthropological, ethnic and other traits of a person should be
considered along with other documentary evidence to determine
a claimant`s status as a member of the Scheduled Tribe for
enjoying the benefits in education and employment.
A bench of justices D K Jain and A K Ganguly said
pre-independence documents should be given preference over
post-independence documents as they have more probative value
in determining the tribal status of a person.
Allowing the appeal of Anand, a probationary field
officer of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, had challenged
the state government`s decision to terminate his services on
the ground that his tribal status was not valid, the apex
court laid down certain parameters for states to observe while
deciding the ST status of a person.
Anand was appointed to the post on 16th March, 1998.
The state government, however, issued him a notice for
terminating his service on the ground that his certificate was
not valid as the Vigilance Cell found that he was a member of
Halbi sub-caste of the Koshti caste but does not belong to
the original Halbi Scheduled Tribe.
Interpreting the Maharashtra Scheduled Castes, Scheduled
Tribes rules, and Constitutional rights enjoyed by tribals,
the apex court said an enquiry into the kinship and affinity
of an applicant to STs is not only relevant but germane to the
determination of social status of a person.
"The genuineness of a caste claim has to be considered
not only on a thorough examination of the documents submitted
in support of the claim but also on the affinity test which
would include the anthropological and ethnological traits etc
of the applicant.
"However, it is neither feasible nor desirable to lay
down an absolute rule which could be applied mechanically to
examine a caste claim," Justice Jain said writing the