Married woman cannot rely on husband’s caste to contest elections for seats reserved for OBC or SC/ST candidates

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Vasanti Naik and Riyaz I. Chagla, JJ. heard a petition seeking directions to the restrain the second respondent from disqualifying the petitioner from the Solapur Municipal Corporation till the decision of the caste claim of the petitioner by the Divisional Caste Scrutiny Committee is not served. The petitioner had contested Solapur Municipal Corporation elections as a candidate of the Congress party for an OBC category seat by submitting documents in support of her claim of belonging to “Tambat” OBC on the basis of her husband’s and not her father’s caste.

Once elected as Corporator, the Caste Scrutiny Committee directed the petitioner to submit caste documents from her father’s side which supported the caste claim of “Lohar NT”. The petitioner contended that the delay in filing of the caste certificate was because of the delay being caused by the respondent Committee. It was submitted that though the petitioner had contested the elections under her husband’s caste, she had complied with the directions of the Caste Scrutiny Committee and had submitted caste documents from her father’s side.

Upholding the arguments made by the respondents and relying on Meera Kanwaria v. Sunita, 2006 (1) SCC 344, the Court held that “a married woman cannot by relying on her husband’s caste claim entitlement to contest election for the seat reserved for a Scheduled Caste candidate” because a high caste Hindu, who hasn’t been subject to backwardness in his life does not become a member of the Scheduled Caste or Scehduled Tribe by reason of marriage alone. The Court established that the petitioner had been wrongfully elected as Corporator based on her husband’s caste, and therefore, the petition was dismissed. [Anuradha Sudhakar Katkar v. Divisional Caste Scrutiny Committee, 2017 SCC OnLine Bom 8905, order dated 3.10.2017]

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