1. In response to the notification calling for applications for selection to the I year M.B.B.S. course in the Government and private medical colleges for the academic year 1980-81, the selection of which is regulated by the Karnataka Medical Colleges (Selection for Admission) Rules, 1980 (hereinafter referred to as the Rules), the petitioner, respondents 2 and 3 and a large number of eligible applicants applied for selection to the said course. The petitioner claimed to be a member of 'Besthar' caste and a member of backward tribe recognised as such by Government in the relevant Government order providing for reservations under Article 15(4) of the Constitution in educational institutions of the State. His claim was also certified by the appropriate revenue authority. On a consideration of the claim made by the petitioner, the selection committee found that the petitioner was not a member of ''Beshtar' caste, but was a member of 'Beshta' caste which was not backward tribe and on that basis found that his merit did not justify his selection and, therefore, did not select him to the course.
2. In conformity with his stand before the selection committee, the petitioner has asserted that he is a member of 'Besthar' caste and is a member of backward tribe and having regard to his superior merit, he should have been selected, in preference to respondents 2 and 3 who have secured lower percentage of marks than the one secured by him, to any one of the seats reserved under the rules and the orders made thereto. On these allegations, the petitioner claims that the selection committee, had contravened Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution and a mandamus should be issued to it to select him displacing the least meritorious candidate in the category of backward tribes.
3. The selection committee/respondent No. 1 has resisted the claim of the petitioner. In its return verified by the Chairman of the selection committee, respondent No. 1 has asserted that the petitioner is a 'Besthar' by caste which is only a backward caste and is not a member of Besthar which alone is a backward tribe. In justification of, its finding that the petitioner is a 'Besthar', a member of backward caste, it has relied on an admission made by the petitioner before it (Annexure Rl). On these allegations, respondent No. 1 has asserted that there has been no infraction of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution in the case of the petitioner.
4. Respondent No. 2 who is represented by a counsel has not filed any separate return. But, at the hearing, the counsel for respondent No. 2 supported respondent No. 1. Respondent No. 3 who has been duly served has remained absent and is unrepresented.
5. With the leave of the Court, the petitioner has filed a reply to the statement of objections filed by respondent No. 1. In his reply, the petitioner does not dispute that the caste 'Beshtar' or 'Bunde-Bestar' is a separate and distinct caste from 'Besthar' caste. He also admits that he is a member of 'Besthar' caste. But, still he has asserted that 'Besthar' to which he belongs is also a backward tribe and the same has been so recognised by Government in its order issued under Articles 15(4) and. 16 of the Constitution, and, therefore, he should have been selected in preference to respondents 2 and 3 who have secured lower percentage of marks than the one secured by him.
6. Sri H. Subramhanya Jois. learned counsel for the petitioner, strenuously contended that the petitioner, a member of 'Besthar' caste, spelled as 'Beshtar', is a backward tribe recognised as such by the orders made by Government under Articles 15(4) and 16 of the Constitution and the selection committee was bound to consider his case on that basis and select him to the course in preference to respondents 2 and 3 and in -not so doing, it has violated Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. In support of his contention Sri Jois strongly relied on the decisions rendered by me in M. A. Santosh kumar v. State of Karnataka (W. P. No. 14896 of 1980 decided on 22-10-1980) and M. P. Shylaja v. State of Karnataka (Writ Petn. No. 17569 of 1980 decided on 21-11-1980).
7. Sri V. C. Brahmarayappa, learned II Additional Government Advocate, appearing for respondent No. I urged, that the decision of the selection committee was in conformity with the orders and there has been no violation of Articles 14 and 15 justifying this Court's interference under Article 226 of the Constitution. Sri Brahmarayappa pointed out that the two decisions rendered by me, in the absence of all the necessary data and material and on misapprehension of facts, cannot be the basis for upholding the claim of the petitioner.
8. Before the selection committee, as also before this Court, the petitioner admits that he is a member of 'Besthar' caste. He also admits that 'Besthar' caste is different from 'Beshtar' or 'Bunde Bestar'. 'Besthar' caste to which the petitioner belongs has been recognised only as a backward caste (vide Sl. No. 43) by the Government in its order No. SWL 123 BCA 79 dated 1st May, 1979 (vide Annexure I of the said order). In the said Government order, two other castes called 'Beshtar' and 'Bunde Bestar' have been recognised as backward tribes (vide S1. No. 9). The caste 'Beshtar' and 'Bunde Bestar' recognised as backward tribes is a distinct and a separate caste from 'Besthar' caste which has been recognised only as a backward caste and not as a backward tribe. A member of a 'Besthar' caste, by suffixing or adding the letter 'r' to his caste, will not cease to be a 'Besthar' and will not become a member of 'Beshtar' and 'Bunde Bestar' caste. On the very admission made by the petitioner that he is a member of 'Besthar' caste, it follows that he is only a member of backward caste and not a member of backward tribe as was claimed by him before the selection committee and this Court. In this view, the finding of the selection committee that the petitioner is a member of backward caste and is not a member of backward tribe and cannot claim preference to the number of seats reserved to that category is unexceptionable and does not, suffer from any illegality justifying this Court's interference under Article 226 of the Constitution.
9. A member of backward caste cannot compare himself with a member of backward tribe. On the finding, of the selection committee that the petitioner was not a member of a backward caste, there would be infraction of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution if he is not considered to the seats reserved for members of backward tribes. In this view, the complaint of the petitioner that there is an infraction of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution, has no merit.
10. In Santosh kumar's and Shylaja's cases on similar facts, the selection committee had rejected the applications of those candidates on similar grounds. But, in Santosh kumar's case which was followed by me in Shylaja's case, I expressed the view that the mistake, if any, was in spelling and the selection committee was not justified in rejecting those applications. While in Santosh kumar's case I directed the selection committee to reexamine the claim, in Shylaja's case, I directed a seat to be given to her.
11. Unfortunately, in both those occasions the selection committee did not file its returns and point out the distinction and difference between the two separate and distinct castes one of which is recognised as a backward caste and the other as a backward tribe and the attempt made by the former to claim the benefits of the latter that are legitimately due only to the latter. A contention urged before me for the petitioners in those cases that the mistake was a simple mistake in spelling was not even seriously contested by the selection committee. It is in those circumstances that I reached my conclusion and made the orders.
12. I am now convinced that the orders made by me, more so in the case of Shylaja, for whatever reason it may be and whoever that is responsible for the same, without apprehending the true facts and the questions that really arose, were clearly wrong and should not have been made by me. Without apportioning the blame on anybody, I sincerely regret for my failing in not noticing the above aspects in those cases. In this connection, I can only remember what I expressed in Kariyanna v. Isthuri Subbiahsetty ((1981) 1 Kant LJ 66). (AIR 1981 Kant 234) affirming an order made by the Munsiff, Chickballapur in correcting his, own mistake. Therein, I stated thus:
'A Judge owes it to himself and the litigant public to correct his own mistakes when once the same is brought to his notice and he will be failing in his duty if he does not do so and sticks to his previous order as if he is infallible.' This statement made by me in Kariyanna's case applies in greater force when the mistake committed by me has been pointed to me and I am convinced of the same. For these reasons, I cannot agree with what was stated by me in Santosh kumar's and Shylaja's cases and if I were to follow the same, I would be only perpetrating a manifest mistake committed by me which cannot and should not be done.
13. Sri Jois next contended that no reliance can be placed on the letter or statement made by the petitioner at the time of interview (Annexure Rl) as the same was obtained under duress or coercion.
14. In its return, verified by the Chairman, the aforesaid assertion of the petitioner has been denied by respondent No. 1. The petitioner who is a major has signed the statement, the original of Annexure Rl. He does not dispute his signature to that statement. When that is so, it is difficult to conceive that the petitioner, a well educated man aspiring to become a Doctor, would have signed without realising the contents of the statement under duress and coercion as is now sought to be made out before this Court. I have, therefore, no hesitation in holding that the petitioner has made the, statement in response to a query that was made by the selection committee before that committee and the same is a voluntary statement. In fact, the reply of the petitioner that he is a 'Besthar' caste fully is in accord with the statement made by him before the selection committee.
15. Sri Jois lastly contended that the nature of the enquiry held by the selection committee and the order made, by it is violative of the principles of natural justice.
16. A selection committee constituted for selecting candidates for admission to technical courses where thousands of applicants will have to be examined, cannot be expected to hold a regular enquiry As if it is a civil court, criminal court or a Commission of Inquiry deciding complicated questions of fact and law. In my opinion, the nature of the enquiry held and the, order made by the selection committee is not violative of the principles of natural justice and there is no justification for this Court to interfere on any ground.
17. In the light of my above discussion, I hold that there is no merit in any of the contentions urged for the petitioner and the rule issued is liable to be discharged. I, therefore, discharge the rule issued in the case.
18. In the circumstances of the case, I direct the parties to bear their own costs.
19. Rule discharged.