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Gujarat High Court junks MLA’s plea against caste certificate invalidation

Bhupendra-Khant

Ahmedabad | The Gujarat High Court today dismissed a petition filed by Bhupendra Khant, independent MLA from Morva Hadaf, challenging a scrutiny committee’s decision to invalidate his caste certificate.

The constituency is reserved for the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. As a result of today’s judgment, Khant faces disqualification as an MLA. Khant moved the high court in February after the scrutiny committee headed by the tribal development commissioner set aside his ST community certificate for the second time. Justice Bela Trivedi today dismissed Khant’s petition.

Khant had claimed that his father belonged to Other Backward Class (OBC) community, but his mother was a tribal. As his father had abandoned the family long ago, he identified himself as belonging to his mother’s caste, and thus the ST certificate declaring him as ST was valid, the petition had said. He grew up at his maternal grandfather’s house, according to it.

However, government lawyers argued that Khant had no concrete evidence to prove his claim, and records suggested that he was raised at his father’s house. Khant won the Assembly election for the first time in December last year. He later said that he would support the Congress. The scrutiny committee invalidated his caste certificate in January, soon after the polls.

He moved the high court which asked the committee to give Khant a chance to produce documents to back his claim. The committee went through the documents and rejected his claim again, after which he moved the high court again.

Khant, who was expecting a ticket from the Congress, contested as an independent when the main opposition party ceded the seat to Bharatiya Tribal Party under a seat-sharing agreement.

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