Govt has rejected Ranganath panel’s report on converted Dalits, SC told

The submissions were made by S-G in pleas seeking scheduled caste status for Dalit Christian and Muslim converts.
Supreme Court.
Supreme Court.

NEW DELHI: The Central government on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that the government had taken a decision to not accept Justice Ranganath Mishra’s Commision’s report. The Commission’s 2007 report on Religious and Linguistic Minorities had recommended permitting Dalits who converted into Islam and Christianity to avail Scheduled Caste status.

Appearing before the bench of Justice SK Kaul, AS Oka and Vikram Nath, Solicitor Genral Tushar Mehta also apprised the bench of the recently appointed three-member commission, headed by former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan which has been tasked to consider the possibility of granting SC status to “new persons who have historically belonged to the Scheduled Castes’’ but have converted to religions other than Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

The submissions were made by S-G in pleas seeking scheduled caste status for Dalit Christian and Muslim converts. The pleas argue that exclusion of Christian and Muslim Dalits from the list of Scheduled Caste was discriminatory. Currently as per the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 only Dalits of Hindus, Sikh and Buddhist faith can be categorised as SCs.

Appearing for Centre for Public Interest Litigation, Advocate Prashant Bhushan had contended that it was completely unconstitutional to discriminate on the grounds of religion. Referring to the Union’s affidavit, Bhushan said, “Now, the government is saying that we want to appoint another commission who will be headed by ex-CJI KG Balakrishna to consider. They want the matter to be deferred for two years. Problem is that ones who are converted into Muslims and Christians are suffering from discrimination. Today, that’s what we are and this is a short question.”

Considering the submissions in the case, the SC bench said that it would firstly consider whether it should await the report of a new commission appointed under ex-CJI KG Balakrishnan or proceed with the material already available. While directing to list the pleas in January, 2023, court in their order said, “First aspect which has to be dealt with is whether the court should stay its hands or proceed with material available on record.”

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