Changing surname does not change caste of person: HC
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Mumbai, May 29

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 BR 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.

The petitioner submitted that he had passed MBBS course in December, 2014 from Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences, Deemed University at Loni in Ahmednagar district. In the said certificate as well as mark list, his surname appears as ‘Bhardwaj’.He said that after passing his MBBS degree course, he had applied for admission to Post Graduate Course with the State Common Entrance Test Cell in accordance with the admission rules for the course in 2016.The petitioner said he had appeared for Common Entrance Test and secured 167 marks out of 300. In the Hall Ticket and Mark List for the exam, his surname appeared as ‘Bhardwaj’.

In the selection list for admission to the PG Course for 2016, his name appeared with ‘Bhardwaj’ surname and he was directed to take admission in the course at Dr Punjabrao Bauchand Deshmuk Memorial Medical College, Amravati.The petitioner informed the court that he had completed all the formalities required for his admission to PG Course as per the select list, however, the college authorities denied him admission in a letter dated April 20, 2016, on the ground that his name appearing in Caste Validity Certificate is different from what had appeared in the select list.Being aggrieved, he moved the Bombay High Court which has now directed the college authorities to consider his claim for admission.