Christianity, Islam don’t have ‘backwardness’, converts can’t get SC tag, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms


NEW DELHI: The Centre has told the Supreme Court that Dalits converted to Christians and Islam cannot be given Scheduled Caste status to get benefits of reservation as there is no backwardness or oppression in those religions.

The ministry of social justice and empowerment in an affidavit filed in the apex court said the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950 does not suffer from any unconstitutionality and it is legal and valid. The Centre was responding on a plea of NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) seeking extension of reservation and other benefits to people from Dalit communities who embraced Islam and Christianity.

“The Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order, 1950 was based on historical data which clearly established that no such backwardness or oppression was ever faced by members of Christian or Islamic Society. In fact, one of the reasons for which people from Scheduled Castes have been converting to religions like Islam or Christianity is so that they can come out of the oppressive system of untouchability which is not prevalent at all in Christianity or Islam,” the affidavit said.

The ministry also submitted that the identification of Scheduled Castes is centred around a specific social stigma that is limited to the communities identified in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 and the order was based on historical data which clearly established that no such backwardness or oppression was ever faced by members of Christian or Islamic society.

“In fact, one of the reasons for which people from Scheduled Castes have been converting to religions like Islam or Christianity is so that they can come out of the oppressive system of untouchability which is not prevalent at all in Christianity or Islam,” the affidavit said.

The government also expressed its disagreement with the report of the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission which recommended inclusion of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the Scheduled Castes list, and said it took a myopic view and its findings are flawed.

The Centre differentiated the Dalits who embraced Buddhism from their counterparts who converted to Islam and Christianity. The affidavit said: “Scheduled Casts embraced Buddhism voluntarily at the call of Dr Ambedkar in 1956 on account of some innate socio-political imperatives. The original castes/ community of such converts can clearly be determined. This cannot be said in respect of Christians and Muslims, who might have converted on account of other factors, since the process of such conversions has been taken place over the centuries.”





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