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"Changing surname does not change caste of person"

“Changing surname does not change caste of person”

The Bombay High Court has provided relief to a medical graduate who was denied admission in a post-graduate course in the Scheduled Tribe category despite possessing valid caste certificate on the ground that he had changed his surname.

The petitioner contended that though he had a Caste Validity Certificate and belonged to Scheduled Tribe, his claim to post graduate admission was not being considered on the ground that he has changed his surname.

“If the surname is changed, that does not change caste of a person. It is specific contention of the petitioner that the change in his surname is duly notified in the Government Gazette,” observed the court.

“By way of ad-interim relief, we direct the respondents to consider the claim of petitioner from reserved category if the petitioner possesses validity certificate and a Government Notification notifying the change in his name,” the court said.

The vacation bench of justices Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi and B R Gavai, in their order on May 23, asked the government pleader to communicate the order passed by the high Court to the college authority concerned.

The petitioner, Shantunu Hari Bhardwaj, submitted that after completion of his MBBS Degree, he had sought admission to Post Graduate Course under the reserved quota for ST community. However, he was denied admission by the respondents arbitrarily and illegally.

The petitioner submitted that his caste and sub-caste is Hindu-Tokre Koli which falls under the category of Scheduled Tribes as per the Schedule annexed to Constitution of India.

It was contended that his original surname is ‘Sapkale’.

However, he and his brother have changed their surname from Sapkale to ‘Bhardwaj’ from the year 1999 by effect of an official publication in Maharashtra Government Gazette, dated May 20, 1999.

The petitioner submitted that after the said official change in his surname as ‘Bhardwaj’, he had applied to the Education Officer for changing his surname from Sapkale to ‘Bhardwaj’ by an application dated August 29, 1999.

The Education Officer by his order dated January 20, 2000, changed his surname from Sapkale to Bhardwaj in all school records.

( Source – PTI )

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