KOCHI: Children born to intercaste couples — those belonging to different castes — have had a long-standing problem while applying for reservation benefits. The lack of definite guidelines on deciding the caste of the child makes the process messy. The child cannot be automatically attached to the father’s caste, especially when the parents are separated.
A similar case recently reached before the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KeSCPCR). The daughter of a man belonging to Hindu-Cheruman caste and a woman born to Christian (LC) — separated four years ago — approached the commission for clarity on her caste.
The daughter’s caste was recorded as Hindu-Cheruman in her school certificate. When she applied for a caste certificate to appear for competitive examinations, the tahsildar and village officer denied her one. Though her mother affirmed that the daughter did not convert to Christianity, the certificate was not issued.
By the rules
According to the Kerala government order issued in 2005, the caste of the child is determined by the caste of his/her father and the customs the child has been following. But this is not very conclusive evidence, says Commission member advocate K Naseer.
“We find that even if the daughter is living with mother, she has been following the customs of her father’s caste. There are no hard fast rules to determine the caste of a child other than checking the caste of his/her father, especially when the parents are separated and the child is living with one of the parents. There should be clearer guidelines on the same,” said Adv Naseer.
In Kerala, some of the community organisations are providing an affidavit to prove caste. This is not often supported by valid documents or hearings and can be influenced, the official added. When the child wishes to get reservation benefits, such documents are mandatory.