Apex Court Adjourned Hearing on Petitions Seeking S.C. Status For Converted Christian & Muslims

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned batch of petitions seeking Scheduled caste status for Dalits who have converted to Christianity or Islam. Apex Court Fixes January 10 for next hearing saying that it will first decide whether it should wait the report of commission appointed under Ex-CJI  KG Balakrishnan or proceed on basis of material already available.

Appearing for the petitioner advocate Prashant Bhushan said that issues have been raised in the case, whether Scheduled caste professing religion other than Hinduism, Buddhism or Sikhism can be excluded from Dalit category? whether non inclusion of Christians and Muslims in SC category is not discriminatory.

Prashant Bhushan said, initial rule said that only Hindus can be SC. Then the provision was amended in 1960s to include Sikhs. Amended again in 1990s to include Buddhists. Rangnath Mishra commission also accepted that this provision is discriminatory, he added.
We have given evidence before the Ranganath Mishra commission that Dalits even after conversion are suffering from social disabilities and discrimination.
The problem is that you have a Provision saying that nobody except hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions can be SC, he added

Senior advocate Sanjay hegde who appeared for petitioner said that there are also a lot of people who claim to be “Brahmin Christians” and “rajput muslims”. Caste is a religious structure but there are persons who have recognised religious places where only some castes are allowed to worship.

Appearing for Union of India SG Tushar Mehta said that the government has chosen not to accept the recommendations of the Rangnath Mishra commission for various reasons. We have filed new affidavit with terms of reference for the new commission.
The Bench said that We only have 2 days this week, then there is miscellaneous week. After vacations there are constitution benches sitting. Should we take it up after the constitution bench are over?

List matter in January immediately after the Constitution bench matter listed for 10 January gets over the bench said

On 10 November the Centre had filed an affidavit in Supreme court and said that the Scheduled Caste status was never granted to those groups who claim to have been Dalits but later converted to Christianity or Islam as the historical data shows they never faced backwardness or oppression.

In a 70-page affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment defended the exclusion of the two communities from the SC list. It urged the court to quash any legal challenge to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950.

The Supreme Court was hearing batch of pleas that had argued that exclusion of Christian and Muslim Dalits from the list of Scheduled Caste was discriminatory. Currently only Dalits of Hindus, Sikh and Buddhist faith can be categorised as SCs.

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About the Author: Meera Verma