Supreme Court issues notice on plea for extending Scheduled Caste status to ‘converted Christians’, making Scheduled Castes community ‘religion neutral’
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to examine a plea seeking directions to grant Scheduled Caste status to the Christians converted from Scheduled Caste communities. The plea filed a Christian outfit, the National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) also sought that the Scheduled Castes community be made ‘religion neutral’.
The court sought the government’s response in two weeks. A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant issued notice to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Minorities and Registrar General of India.
The court was hearing a plea filed by the National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) seeking Scheduled Caste status for Dalit Christians. The group also wants to delink Scheduled Castes community from ‘religion’ (read Hindu).
"Allow and extend the Scheduled Castes status to Christians of Scheduled Castes Origin for availing special privilege in education, scholarships, employment, welfare measures, panchayat elections, legislative assemblies up to Indian Parliament and for availing the legal remedy/protection under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention) of Atrocities Act, 1989 amended in the year 2018," the plea said.
The plea, filed through advocate Franklin Caesar Thomas, said that a Scheduled Caste person professing a religion different from Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism cannot be deprived of the benefit of Paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950. The plea claimed that change in religion does not change social exclusion and caste hierarchy continues to hold fort within Christianity even though the religion forbids it.