Dalits

SUPREME COURT: Dalits to get quota bebefits even after reconvertion

February 28, 2015 05:51 AM
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 NEW DELHI: In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has ruled that if a person with dalit ancestry reconverts to Hinduism, he would get back his caste status and benefit of reservation. 

The bench laid down a three-fold criteria for a re-converted person to get back his caste status and consequential benefits accruing to that caste for employment and education. The only caveat is that on reconversion, the dalit community must accept him/her as a member of the community. 

"A person who is born to Christian parents who had converted to Christianity from Scheduled Caste Hindu can avail the benefit of caste certificate after his embracing Hinduism, subject to other qualifications," a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and V Gopala Gowda ruled on Thursday. 

"There cannot be any soundness of logic that he cannot avail the similar benefit because his grandparents were converted and he was born to parents who were Christian," said Justice Misra, who authored the judgment for the bench. 

The bench laid down a three-fold criteria for a re-converted person to get back his caste status and consequential benefits accruing to that caste for employment and education. The only caveat is that on reconversion, the dalit community must accept him/her as a member of the community. 

"There must be absolutely clear cut proof that he belongs to the caste that has been recognized by the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950; there has been reconversion to the original religion to which the parents and earlier generations had belonged; and there has to be evidence establishing the acceptance by the community," the bench said. 

The case related to refusal of Scheduled Caste certificate to one K P Manu, whose great grandfather belonged to Hindu Pulaya community in Kerala. Manu's father had embraced Christianity and took a new name, Verghese, and married Mariam, who earlier belonged to the Hindu Ezhava community and had converted to Christianity. 

Manu was born in 1960 and in 1984, converted to Hindu religion. He applied for caste certificate from Akhila Bharata Ayyappa Seva Sangam. After obtaining the certificate from his community, he sought caste certificate from the tehsildar which too was granted. Another person complained against the caste certificate and it was cancelled by the scrutiny committee. 

The Kerala HC upheld the cancellation of caste certificate saying reconversion did not allow him to get back the original caste of his forefathers as his father was not part of the same community. 

Refusing to buy the argument that Manu had married a Christian woman, the apex court bench said, "The community, which is a recognized organization by the state government, has granted the certificate in categorical terms in favour of K P Manu. It is the community which has the final say as far as acceptance is concerned. 

"Therefore, we are inclined to hold that K P Manu after reconversion had come within the fold of the community and thereby became a member of the Scheduled Castes. Had the community expelled him, the matter would have been different. The acceptance is continuous." 

The court directed authorities to reinstate him in service with all benefits relating to seniority and 75% of back wages.

 

 

 

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