The Madras High Court has declared as unconstitutional an order of the Puducherry government that SC/ST certificates would be issued only on the basis of residential status of the applicant's father and not on the residential status of the mother.

In its judgment dismissing an appeal filed by the Puducherry administration challenging a single Judge's order, a Division Bench comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and M.Venugopal said when discrimination was sought to be made on the purported ground of classification, it should be founded on rational criteria. But, instead of carrying on the spirit of oneness and towards the goal of reaching a society with no discrimination of whatsoever and achieving gender equality, the territorial administration had brought in a classification amounting to gender discrimination.

The case of Jaya, belonging to Adi Dravida community and born in 1960 at Nedungadusalaipet, was that she got married to Paneerselvam, also belonging to the same community, who was a migrant to Puducherry. When she applied to the Tahsildar, Puducherry, for a community certificate for her son, the application was not processed in view of a memorandum dated November 10, 2000, issued by the territorial administration.

Residential status

It said community certificates should be issued based only on the residential status of the applicant's father on the crucial date, March 5, 1964, as per a Presidential order and not on the residential status of the mother.

Aggrieved, she filed a writ petition. The administration opposed it on the ground that ‘parents' meant both father and mother and not either father or mother. Hence only such persons whose mother and father were residing in Puducherry prior to the crucial date were eligible to get SC origin certificate. If it was not so, then, the residential status of the father alone would be considered. There was no gender discrimination.

A single Judge allowed Ms. Jaya's petition. Challenging the order, the Puducherry administration filed the present appeal.

The Bench said that by the impugned order, issued in the name of clarification in the issue of SC/ST certificates, an indifferent classification had been made which was not at all the intention of the Presidential order.

The administration order besides offending the Constitution ran contrary to the spirit of a Supreme Court judgment. When there was no dispute regarding the fact that the applicant's parents belonged to SC, recognised by the Puducherry government and the communal status of the applicant's father did not change on his migration to the Union Territory, the denial of community certificate to the petitioner's ward was illegal, the Bench said and directed the administration to issue community certificate to the applicant within four weeks.

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