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SC to examine Dalit Christians’ plea that reservation should be “religion neutral”

Representational image. File

Representational image. File   | Photo Credit: S. Subramanium

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Paragraph three of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 restricts Christians of Scheduled Castes origin from availing the Scheduled Castes status. A plea in Supreme Court is challenging this.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to examine a plea that Dalit Christians or Christians of Scheduled Castes origin should enjoy the same quota benefits reserved for Scheduled Castes.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde issued notice to the government on a writ petition filed by the National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) that reservation for government jobs and admissions in educational institutions should be made “religion neutral”.

Appearing for NCDC, advocates Franklin Caesar Thomas and S. Gowthaman, submitted that “change in religion does not change social exclusion. Caste hierarchy continues to hold fort within Christianity even though the religion forbids it”.

The petition said, “Allow and extend the Scheduled Caste status to Christians of Scheduled Caste origin for availing special privilege in education, getting scholarships, employment opportunity, welfare measures, affirmative actions, right to contest in the reserved constituencies from panchayat, legislative assemblies up to the Parliament and for availing the legal remedy/ protection under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention) of Atrocities Act, 1989 amended in the year 2018.”

Chief Justice Bobde remarked, “This requires some consideration”.

The NCDC said some of some poorest Christians of Scheduled Castes Origin people were engaged in menial jobs, including manual scavenging.

Chief Justice Bobde remarked that that social hierarchy applied within other religious communities like among Muslims also.

Mr. Thomas submitted that reservation should be delinked from religion. The court sought the government’s response in two weeks.

The petition highlighted how paragraph three of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 restricts Christians of Scheduled Castes origin from availing the Scheduled Castes status. It contended that this restriction was against the fundamental right to equality, religious freedom and non-discrimination.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 9:18:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-to-examine-dalit-christians-plea-that-reservation-should-be-religion-neutral/article30512888.ece

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