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Caste woman’s marriage to Dalit no ticket for poll quota
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 31
The Supreme Court in a significant judgement has ruled that a forward caste woman has no right to contest election from a constituency reserved for backward classes merely by marrying a person from these communities, saying this would defeat the very purpose of Article 332 providing electoral reservation for people belonging to the SC and ST candidates.

“We have difficulty in accepting the position that a non-tribal who marries a tribal could claim to contest a seat reserved for tribals. Article 332 of the Constitution speaks of reservation of seats for STs in legislature. The object is clearly to give representation in the legislature to ST candidates, considered to be deserving of a special protection,” a Bench of Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti, Mr Justice G P Mathur and Mr Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan said.

“To permit a non-tribal under the cover of marriage to contest such a seat would tend to defeat the very object of such reservation,” the court ruled. The judgement came on an election appeal by a Telgu Desam Party’s former woman MLA, Sobha Hymavathi Devi, whose election to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly in 1999 was set aside by the A P High Court on the same ground.

In her petition before the High Court as well as the apex court, she had gone to the extent of claiming the birth of her and her five siblings as a result of “illicit” relation between her mother, a ST woman and her father belonging to a forward caste. This, she had made a ground to claim the representation benefit as a ST candidate contending that she had inherited her mother’s caste rather than that of her father’s because her parents were not legally married.

The Bench took serious note of politicians stooping so low to get elected by hook or crook, saying “we wish to express our dismay at the extent to which a person could go to sustain her seat in the legislature. The appellant (Sobha) brands her five siblings and herself as illegitimate and her mother a concubine.”

While recognising that a woman on marrying a person of a particular caste in our “rigidly” followed caste system becomes a member of the family of the husband, but it was important that the community must grant her right to represent it in the legislature.


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