The Center has filed an affidavit opposing the plea for Scheduled Caste status for Scheduled Caste converts to Christianity. The affidavit was filed by the Under Secretary, Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, on behalf of the Indian Union.
The affidavit states that Christianity is an egalitarian religion that does not recognize caste. It states that the criterion followed in deciding whether a caste or community is eligible for inclusion in the list of scheduled castes is extreme social, educational and economic backwardness resulting from traditional practices of untouchability practiced by Hindus since time immemorial. . “In its conception, Christianity is an egalitarian religion that does not recognize caste and is therefore antithetical to the practice of untouchability“, says the affidavit.
The Center says it has received objections from Scheduled Caste representatives against granting this status to new people. He says that since the issue is a fundamental and historically complex sociological and constitutional issue and a specific issue of public importance, it has appointed a commission headed by former CJI judge KG Balakrishnan to look into the matter and submit a report in two years.
After referring to Explanation II of Article 25, the Center says that conversion to Buddhism was different from conversions to Christianity. “Scheduled castes converted to Buddhism embraced Buddhism voluntarily 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 regard to Christians and Muslims who might have converted due to other factors, since the process of these conversions took place over centuries.“, specifies the Center.
The Center also says that the request for inclusion of Scheduled Castes converted to Christianity and Islam has been rejected in the past by the Registrar General of India and the National Commission for SC/ST.
The Center points out in the affidavit that in some states, SC converts to Christianity and some communities converts to Islam are included in the OBC list. “It is further stated that Scheduled Castes converted to Christianity and Islam are also entitled to the benefits of government programs and programs for minorities.“, says the affidavit.
The Center asserts that there is no documented research and accurate authenticated information available to establish that the responsibilities and disabilities of SC members in the social order of its origin (Hinduism) persist with severity. oppressive in the environment of Christianity or Islam. Center refers to old studies conducted in this regard in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The Center says that the untouchability that leads to economic and social backwardness of some Hindu castes was not widespread in Christian or Islamic society and historical data establishes the same.
The Center says that ST converted to Christianity cannot be compared to SC converted to Christianity. He relies on judgments to argue that a decision under Section 341 is final and the courts have no power other than to give effect to the notice issued by the President of India.
The Center argued that there was no discrimination or violation of Section 14 of the Constitution in the matter and that the courts had already recognized that the benefit was limited to the religions mentioned in the 1950 order. He also argued that the courts must give due consideration to the wisdom of Parliament and the President on plenary social legislation.