By J. Venkatesan
NEW DELHI, APRIL 2. The Supreme Court has declined to review its judgment that a child born out of wedlock would inherit only his/her father's caste irrespective of the caste to which the mother belonged.
A three-Judge Bench comprising the Chief Justice, R.C. Lahoti, Justice G.P. Mathur and Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan, thereby dismissed a petition filed by the former Telugu Desam MLA, Shobha Hymavathi Devi, seeking a review of the judgment dated January 28, which upheld an order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashing her election.
In its January 28 ruling the Bench had held that a non-tribal could not claim to contest a seat reserved for tribals merely because she married a backward community person. It noted that the objective of Article 332 of the Constitution was to give representation in the Legislature to Scheduled Tribe candidates and to permit a non-tribal under the cover of a marriage to contest such a seat would defeat the very purpose of such a reservation.
It said that recognition of a woman as a member of a backward community in view of her marriage would not be relevant for entitlement to reservation under Article 16 (4) of the Constitution for the reason that she, as a member of a forward caste, had an advantageous start in life, and a marriage with a male belonging to a backward class would not entitle her to the facility of reservation given to a backward community. The Bench affirmed this judgment on Thursday by dismissing the review petition.
The High Court had set aside the election of Ms. Shoba to the Legislative Assembly in 1999 from Srungavarapukota in Vizianagaram district, an ST reserved constituency, stating that she would not be entitled to the benefits reserved for Scheduled Castes and STs since her father belonged to a forward community and her mother to a backward community.
The defeated candidates challenged Ms. Shobha's election on the ground that she did not belong to the Bagatha community, which had been notified as a Scheduled Tribe community. It was said that she was born to Simhachalem, her mother, who belonged to the Bagatha community, and one Murari Rao, who belonged to a forward caste and that she would acquire only the caste of her father and not that of her mother.
Only mother's caste
However, Ms. Shobha contended that though she was born out of wedlock, she belonged to the Bagatha community as she was also married to a person from that community. But the High Court quashed her election.In her appeal, Ms. Shobha said that since Mr. Rao had not married her mother, it could not be said that she inherited her biological father's community and that she would continue to inherit her mother's caste only.
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