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Plea to make Scheduled Caste status ‘religion-neutral’

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TH

 Context: The SC has taken on board a plea to stop using religious identity as a criterion to afford or deny communities a place within the Scheduled Caste bracket.

 

The petition:

  • Has challenged the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 issued under Article 341(1) of the Constitution.
    • Article 341 (1) authorises the President to declare certain castes and classes as Scheduled Castes in a State (after consultation with the Governor) or a UT.
    • The 1950 Order mandates that anybody who is not a Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist cannot be granted Scheduled Caste status.
  • Since the word ‘religion’ does not even exist in Article 341(1), the ban concerning Christians and Muslims in the 1950 Order should be deleted.

 

Scheduled caste status for Dalit converts:

  • The Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission (2007) recommended that Scheduled Caste reservation be provided for Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam. The Centre had rejected the report.
  • A new Commission (under G. Balakrishnan) was established in 2022 to report on the question of granting SC status to persons who have historically belonged to the SC but have converted to religions other than Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.