Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Religious Conversion and Quota Benefits

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Quota and Religious conversions

In a retaliatory move, a state minister has alleged about a decorated officer serving in the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), has benefitted from the reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs) despite being Muslim.

Do you know?

If the quota/caste certificate is found to be false, the government servant is be removed or dismissed from the service.  There are many who are arranging EWS quota certificates based on forged evidences. Beware.

Quota and religion

  • The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, lays down that no person professing a religion different from the Hindu or Sikh or Buddhist religion can be deemed to be a member of an SC.
  • However, this provision has been amended several times.
  • The original order under which only Hindus were classified as SCs, was amended to include Sikhs in 1956, and Buddhists in 1990.

Rules of Religion in eligibility for the SC Quota

  • There is a 15 per cent quota for SCs in government jobs.
  • But Hindu SCs who convert to Islam lose their SC status, and are no longer eligible for the quota.

A brochure on the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), site lays down the position on SC status and conversions:

  1. A person shall be held to be a member of a SC or ST if he belongs to a caste, or a tribe which has been declared as such.
  2. No person who professes a religion different from the Hindu or the Sikh religion shall be deemed to be a member of the SCs.
  3. Further a person belonging to a SC or ST will continue to be deemed as such irrespective of his/her marriage to a non-Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe.
  4. However, a convert or re-convert to Hinduism and Sikhism shall be accepted as a member of SC if he has been received back and accepted as a member of the concerned SC.
  5. No such religion-based bar, however, operates for STs and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

What about STs?

  • The rights of a person belonging to a Scheduled Tribe are independent of his/her religious faith.

Is the exclusion of Muslims and Christians discriminatory?

  • Petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court seeking the inclusion of Muslims and Christians in the SC category.
  • In 2008, the National Commission on Minorities concluded that there was a case for inclusion Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the SC category.
  • In January 2020, the SC agreed to examine a plea by the National Council of Dalit Christians to make the government’s affirmative action programmes religion-neutral.
  • The plea is pending before the court.

In inter-caste marriages, can mother’s caste be the caste of the couple’s child?

  • The child carries the caste of the father, and caste certificates are issued on this basis.
  • However, courts have taken note of the surroundings in which the child was brought up.
  • In Rameshbhai Dabhai Naika vs State of Gujarat & Ors (2012), the Supreme Court has set a precedence.
  • In an inter-caste marriage or a marriage between a tribal and a non-tribal there may be a presumption that the child has the caste of the father.
  • This presumption may be stronger in the case where husband belongs to a forward caste.
  • In 2006, then Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment has proposed that children born of inter-caste marriages should get SC status if either parent belongs to a SC.

Govt. stance on this

  • In 2006, then Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment has proposed that children born of inter-caste marriages should get SC status if either parent belongs to a SC.
  • A proposal was to be placed before the Cabinet in April 2008, but was withdrawn at the last minute.
  • There was resistance to the suggestion from many quarters, including the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC).

 

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