Reservation benefits under birth caste can’t be claimed after conversion: Madras HC

The petitioner’s counsel argued that the petitioner had only exercised his fundamental right under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, when he converted to Islam.
Madras HC (File | EPS)
Madras HC (File | EPS)

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court recently observed that a person who had undergone religious conversion cannot claim reservation benefits under the caste he or she belonged to by birth. Such a person would only be grouped under the ‘other communities’ category by the state government, it said.

Justice GR Swaminathan made the observation while dismissing a petition filed by a candidate, who was previously a Hindu (DNC) but converted to Islam in 2008. The candidate had challenged a decision made by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) of not treating him as ‘Backward Class (Muslim)’ and instead considering him under the ‘General’ category in the Combined Civil Services Examination-II (Group-II Services) recruitment held in 2018-19.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that the petitioner had only exercised his fundamental right under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, when he converted to Islam. Stating that the petitioner belonged to MBC (DNC) before conversion, the counsel said he ought to be treated as BC (Muslim) after conversion, claiming that Muslims in Tamil Nadu are generally recognised as belonging to the ‘Backward Class’.

He also cited that the zonal deputy tahsildar of Ramanathapuram taluk issued a community certificate in 2015 stating that the petitioner belongs to the Labbai community of Muslims. However, Justice Swaminathan rejected these contentions pointing out that as per an order passed by the TN government in 2008, only seven sections of Muslims have been recognised as belonging to the Backward Class.

He also noted, “The government of Tamil Nadu had in as many as four letters laid down that the candidates who have converted to Islam from other religion will be considered only as ‘others category”
Further citing a judgment passed by the Madras HC in 2013, the judge observed, “A person cannot carry his community of birth even after conversion.”

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