The Union government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that Scheduled Caste (SC) status has not been granted to groups who claim to have been Dalits in the past but have converted to Islam or Christianity because social stigma such as untouchability is not prevalent in these two religions. .
Currently, the constitutional right to employment and educational reservations as a member of the SC community is only extended to persons of Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist faith, pursuant to the Constitution (Caste) Order 1950 listed).
Seeking to fend off the legal challenge to the 1950 ordinance posed by a batch of petitions asking that the reservation umbrella also be extended to Dalits who have converted to Christianity or Islam, the Center said the identification of SC is centered on a specific social stigma. and the related delay which is limited to the communities recognized by the 1950 ordinance.
“The Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Ordinance of 1950 was based on historical data which clearly establishes that no such backwardness or oppression has ever been encountered by members of Christian or Islamic society. In fact, one of the reasons why people from scheduled castes have converted to religions like Islam or Christianity is that they can get out of the oppressive system of untouchability which is not at all prevalent in Christianity or Islam,” the government argued. .
He added that there is also no documented research and accurate authenticated information available to establish that the disabilities and handicaps suffered by members of the listed caste in the social order of its origin (Hinduism) persist. with their oppressive severity in the environment.
According to the Center, it would cause a grave injustice and constitute an abuse of legal process, consequently affecting the rights of SC groups if all converts were arbitrarily granted the benefits of the reservation without considering the aspect of social disability.
He further justified extending the benefits of the reservation to Buddhists while denying it to Muslims and Christians, arguing that not only are the nature of conversions different, but the original caste of those who convert to Buddhism can also be established.
“The SCs voluntarily embraced Buddhism at the call of Dr. Ambedkar in 1956 due to certain innate socio-political imperatives. The original castes/communities of these converts can be clearly determined. This cannot be said with respect to Christians and Muslims, who might have converted due to other factors, since the process of such conversions has taken place over centuries,” the affidavit stated.
Calling on the 2007 report of the Commission of Judge Ranganath Mishra which favored SC status for Dalits in all religions, the affidavit told the court that the report was not accepted by the Center because it was prepared without conducting field studies and had also failed. to account for the effect inclusion would have on current castes listed as SC.
The government told the court that it last month formed a three-member panel led by former CJI KG Balakrishnan to consider whether SC status can be granted to Dalit Muslims and Christians.
The development came about a month after a bench led by Judge Sanjay Kishan Kaul on August 30 asked the Center to explain its position on the petitions that raised the claim. The case had been pending for 18 years, but the Supreme Court said the day had come to take an appeal on issues with social ramifications. The court is expected to hear that case later this month.