The Madras High Court Bench here has refused to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by the secretary of a Muslim jamath seeking a direction to the State Government to declare the caste to which Dalit converts to Islam would belong and issue community certificates to them mentioning the appropriate caste.
The First Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice S. Nagamuthu said it could not entertain the petition since the same issue had been raised before the Supreme Court way back in 2004 and a three judge Bench of the apex court had referred the matter to a larger Bench on January 21, 2011 considering its importance.
“Petitioner seeks to raise the issue of the status of persons who convert to Islam from the Scheduled Caste community and as to whether they are entitled to the benefit of reservation as Scheduled Caste...We see no purpose in entertaining the petition as the very question is under the consideration before the Supreme Court and the law laid down would be applicable to all,” it said.
M.K. Muzibur Rahman, secretary, Umar Nagar Muslim Jamath at Kooriyur in Ramanathapuram District, had filed the PIL petition on the ground that there was no clarity on the issue of declaring the caste status of Dalits who embrace Islam while it was not so in the case of Dalits converting to Buddhism or Sikhism, and hence, there was a necessity for the State government to take a decision.
However, an Additional Advocate General brought it to the notice of the First Bench that an NGO – Centre for Public Interest Litigation – filed a case in the Supreme Court in 2004 questioning the logic behind confining the Scheduled Caste status only to those who were professing Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism under the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950.
Subsequently, a series of cases were filed in the apex court both for and against the demand for according Scheduled Caste status to Dalits who convert to Islam and Christianity.