‘No Caste, No Religion’ certificate cannot be issued by Revenue officials: Madras High Court

The Court, dismissing a writ petition by an individual who wanted such a certificate, also said, the issuance of such a certificate could have serious consequences in the application of personal laws for property inheritance and for reservations in education/employment

February 01, 2024 02:11 pm | Updated 06:48 pm IST - CHENNAI

A view of the Madras High Court. File photograph

A view of the Madras High Court. File photograph

While appreciating the desire of a citizen to obtain a certificate from a revenue official certifying that he does not belong to any religion or caste, the Madras High Court has refused to direct the officer concerned to issue such a certificate due to lack of authority.

Justice S.M. Subramaniam dismissed a writ petition filed by H. Santhosh who sought a direction to the Tirupattur Collector as well as the Tahsildar to consider two applications made by him in 2023 and consequently issue a ‘No Caste, No Religion’ certificate to him.

“Being a good citizen is the greatest contribution for the development of our great nation. It is the fundamental duty contemplated under Article 51A of the Constitution. Petitioner’s desire to secure a ‘No Caste, No Religion,’ certificate deserves to be appreciated,” the judge wrote.

However, the judge held, such a direction to the revenue officials could not be issued by a court of law in the absence of any power conferred on them to issue such a certificate. He agreed with Additional Government Pleader Vadivelu Deenadayalan that a Tahsildar could not issue such a certificate.

Justice Subramaniam pointed out that issuance of such a certificate would have serious implications especially in relation to the application of personal laws on issues related to inheritance of property, and the application of the rule of reservation in education and public employment.

“Certain decisions if taken without understanding the repercussions and consequences, would affect the future generations,” the judge said and pointed out that a 1973 Government Order only permits a person to not mention his/her caste or religion in school certificates.

The 1973 G.O. had been reiterated by way of another G.O. issued on July 13, 2000 and they both permit a person to leave the columns related to caste and religion blank while securing admission in a school and also to obtain a transfer certificate without mentioning caste and religion.

“The petitioner is at liberty to leave the column provided for caste and religion blank in the school documents and it cannot be questioned by the authorities. However, in the absence of any power conferred on a revenue authority to issue a ‘No caste, no religion,’ certificate, the High Court cannot issue a direction,” he concluded.

Any such direction to the revenue authorities in the present case would open the floodgates for other individuals to seek similar such directions, in the absence of any such power conferred on the officials. “Such unguided powers would lead to administrative anarchy and become unconstitutional,” the judge noted.

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