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Reservation for Dalit converts: SC to decide on hearing petitions

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Parliament-Structure, functioning and conduct of business, institutions and bodies for the protection of vulnerable sections of society


Source: TH

 Direction: The article highlights the issues related to the inclusion/exclusion of communities in the SC list.


Context: The SC stated it would consider whether to wait for the Justice K.G. Balakrishnan Commission’s report or hear a series of petitions seeking Scheduled Castes quota benefits for Dalit converts to other religions, notably Christianity.


Article 341 of the Indian Constitution:

  • Clause (1): The President may with respect to any State/UT and where it is a State after consultation with the Governor, may notify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes to be SCs in relation to that State/UT.
  • Clause (2): Parliament may by law include or exclude from the list of SCs specified in a notification issued.



  • Earlier, the SC had sought the Union government’s position on petitions challenging the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950.
  • The Order allows only members of Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions to be recognised as SCs.
  • A group seeking inclusion under the Order, is required to show extreme social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of the practice of untouchability.
  • The Union government rejected the possibility of including Dalit Christians and Muslims and recently constituted a new Commission (under former CJI K.G. Balakrishnan) under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 to re-examine their inclusion.


A case for inclusion:

  • The existence of caste and caste inequalities among Indian Christians and Indian Muslims.
  • The caste-based discrimination continues even after conversion.
  • The 1st Backward Classes Commission’s report (1953), the Mandal Commission Report, the Ranganath Misra Commission Report, etc., highlight the same fact.
  • In Sikhism and Buddhism, though casteism is not present, they have been included as SCs.


Arguments against inclusion:

  • Christianity is an egalitarian religion which did not adhere to any caste system. As a result, a 1936 Imperial Order, specifically excluded “Indian Christians” from the Depressed Classes list.
  • The Union government refuses to accept the reports as they lack empirical evidence to support their claims.
  • The government said that Dalits who converted to Christianity or Islam to escape caste discrimination could no longer claim the reservation benefits enjoyed by those who remained in the Hindu religious system.
  • SC members had converted to Buddhism at the call of B.R. Ambedkar in 1956 on account of “some innate socio-political imperatives”.


Insta Links:

The criterion for SC status


Mains Links:

Q. Whether the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) can enforce the implementation of constitutional reservation for the Scheduled Castes in religious minority institutions. Examine. (UPSC 2018)