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Body Blow For Naba Sarania Ahead Of Polls

HC Dismisses Assam MP’s Petition Challenging Cancellation Of ST Status 

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GUWAHATI, April 18: The Gauhati High Court on Thursday dismissed a writ petition by two-time MP Naba Sarania, challenging a State Level Scrutiny Committee’s (SLSC) order striking down his Scheduled Tribe (Plains) status.

A single-judge bench of Justice S K Medhi delivered the order, Assam’s Advocate General Devajit Saikia told PTI.

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“The honourable court dismissed his writ petition, and did not give him any further relief, effectively debarring him from contesting from any constituency that is reserved for ST or other categories,” Saikia said.

Sarania has been representing the Kokrajhar (ST) constituency in the Lower House of Parliament since 2014 as an Independent, and had announced that he would contest for a third successive term from the same seat when it goes to polls on May 7.

He had challenged a “speaking order” of the SLSC of January 12, 2024, whereby he was held as not belonging to the ST (P) category.

The state’s Department of Tribal Affairs (Plains) subsequently passed an order on January 20, cancelling the caste certificate of Sarania, which was issued to him on October 17, 2011.

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Sarania contended that he belongs to the Boro Kachari community, which has notified ST (P) status, and is a member of Lok Sabha from a constituency reserved for the same community.

Dismissing the writ petition by the MP, the order said there was no “illegality or impropriety in the decision-making process culminating in the speaking order dated 12.01.2024”.

 

“… the impugned findings do not appear to be perverse and there is admittedly no allegation of bias or mala fide. The principles of natural justice appear to have been clearly adhered to in the entire proceeding,” it said, on Sarania’s challenge of the speaking order.

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The court was also intrigued that Sarania, who is 53 years old and has a formal education, had obtained the caste certificate only in 2011 and contested the polls from Kokrajhar in 2014.

“There is not even an iota of evidence or any materials brought on record by the petitioner at any stage of the proceedings which are prior to the year 2011 pertaining to his claim to belong to the ST(P),” it said.

It noted that the father of Sarania, who was in service with Assam Regimental Centre, Shillong, also does not possess any document to support the claim.

Earlier on April 3, a two-judge bench of the Gauhati High Court had set aside the initial relief granted to Sarania in the writ petition.

The order by the single-judge bench had stayed the SLSC of January this year and consequential action affecting the tribal status of Sarania till disposal of the writ petition.

Setting aside this order, the two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Vijay Bishnoi directed that the writ petition filed by Sarania in the matter before the single-judge bench be listed for final disposal due to urgency in the matter. (PTI)

 

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