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No reservation for Dalits who became Muslim-Christians; Modi government’s argument- religion changed, then where is untouchability; Told Sikhs-Buddhists to be part of Hinduism

On 7 December 2022, the Central Government said in the Supreme Court that Dalits who converted to Islam and became Christians should not get the benefit of reservation. Along with this, the government has also refused to accept the report of the Ranganath Mishra Commission, which suggested reservation for all Dalits who changed their religion.

In such a situation, today in Bhaskar Explainer, we know that why only Dalits who become Christians and Muslims do not get the benefit of reservation, what is the purpose of forming the Central Government Commission?

Let us understand the whole matter from a story…

‘U Akbar Ali’ is a resident of Tamil Nadu. He changed his religion from Hindu to Muslim on 26 May 2008. Everyone else in his family still follows Hinduism.

Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission had released a notification on 10 August 2018 for Group-2 jobs. For this there was to be a written examination in two phases. Akbar Ali got success in both prelims and mains exams, but his name did not appear in the final list.

Akbar Ali came to know that he was not given the benefit of reservation considering him as a backward class Muslim. He was placed in the general category. Because of this, his name did not appear in the final list due to some less marks.

After this he reached the Madras High Court with his complaint. In this case, Justice GR Swaminathan of the Madurai bench of the High Court said in his decision that – ‘One cannot keep his caste together after conversion’.

Along with this, the court said that the matter of giving the benefit of reservation to those who change their religion is still in the Supreme Court. In such a situation, the decision taken by the Commission is correct in the current situation.

Now the Central Government has formed a commission to investigate whether Dalits who converted to Islam and became Christians should get reservation or not. So know that…

Question 1: When and for what purpose has the Central Government made this commission?
Answer: On 6 October 2022, the Central Government appointed former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court K.G. A commission has been constituted under the chairmanship of Balakrishnan. There are total 3 members in this commission.

Former Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan
Retired IAS officer Ravinder Kumar Jain
UGC member Professor Sushma Yadav
The purpose of the central government behind creating this commission is that now in its report, this commission will suggest to the government that after conversion, Dalit Muslims and Christians should get the benefit of reservation as scheduled castes or not.

Question 2: Why are Muslims and Christians not getting the benefit of reservation?
Answer: The Center for Public Interest Litigation has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the denial of reservation to Dalits who have become Christians or Muslims. This matter is in the court since 2004.

Under Article 341 of the Constitution, on the orders of the President, in 1950, many castes considered untouchable among Hindus got the status of Scheduled Castes, which are today called Dalits. In 1956, by amending this order of the President, Sikh Dalits were also added to it.

In 1990, the VP Singh government once again changed the order to include Buddhists. It is written in this government order that except Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist, people belonging to other religions will not be considered as members of the Scheduled Castes.

This is the government order because of which those who convert to Islam and Christianity in the country are not able to get the status of Scheduled Castes. Because of this, they are not even able to take advantage of reservation.

Question 3: What is the stand of the government on giving reservation to those who convert to Islam and become Christians?
Answer: In the Supreme Court, the Central Government has given 3 arguments for not giving Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Muslims and Christians…

  • Presidential orders 1950, 1955 and 1990 do not allow Muslims and Christians to be treated as Scheduled Castes and given the benefits of reservation.
  • The word Hindu in clause 2(b) of Article 25 also includes Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. Therefore, apart from these 3 religions, people of any other religion cannot be included in the Scheduled Castes.
  • Muslims and Christians do not have caste discrimination and untouchability, so they cannot be included in the Scheduled Castes.
  • However, those opposing these arguments of the government are demanding amendment in clause 2(b) of
  • Article 25 to include Muslim and Christian religions as well. Also he said that if the word Hindu included Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists…
  • Why were Sikhs included in the 1955 amendment and Buddhists in the 1990 amendment?
  • Why were the people of Buddhist religion not given the status of Scheduled Castes in India till the amendment of 1990?
  • If this is the case, then why have Jains still not got the Scheduled Caste status?

Question 4: What did the Ranganath Mishra Committee which the government has opposed?
Answer: On October 2004, the government formed a commission under the leadership of former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Ranganath Mishra. This commission was entrusted with the responsibility of examining various issues related to minorities on the basis of language and religion in the country.

The Ranganath Mishra Commission had said in its report that-

In 1950, the President had issued an ordinance under Article 341, in Para 3, excluding Dalit Muslims and Christians from the ambit of Scheduled Castes, it was unconstitutional. That should end. There is no need for any constitutional amendment for this. This work can also be done by executive order.

Question 5: Is this vote bank politics?
Answer: President of All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaj and former MP Ali Anwar Ansari said that the Sachar Committee had said in its report that there is caste discrimination among Muslims. There is discrimination against Dalits even in this religion. At the same time, the Ranganath Mishra Committee had said in its report that there should be reservation for Dalit Muslims as well.

He said that when this matter reached the court, the government felt that the Supreme Court could give a verdict in favor of Muslim and Christian Dalits. In such a situation, the Center formed a separate commission and said that in this matter only this commission will decide further.

The thing to think is that on one hand the government has constituted a commission to investigate this and on the other hand the government has also said in the Supreme Court that Muslim and Christian Dalits cannot get reservation legally. In such a situation, it seems that the Commission is just looking for an excuse and the intention of the Central Government is not in favor of giving Muslim and Christian Dalits their rights. Further, Ali Anwar says that it seems that all this is vote bank politics of the government.

Question 6: How correct is the argument of not giving reservation to those who join Muslim and Christian religions?
Answer: Delhi University’s law professor Seema Singh said that the decision not to give reservation to converted Muslims and Christians is absolutely correct. After independence, most of the Hindu Dalits have changed their religion. In such a situation, they should not be given reservation due to these reasons…

  • There is no caste discrimination in Islam and Christianity. For this reason, Dalits of Hindu religion join Muslim and Christian religions. There caste discrimination is not the same as it is in Hinduism and the Supreme Court has also accepted this fact in different decisions.
  • In such a situation, getting reservation for Dalits who change religion is against the basic spirit of reservation, which is based on caste discrimination. That’s why these benefits should not be given to Dalits who convert to Islam and become Christians.
  • Religious minorities have the right to open their own educational institutions under Article 30 of the Constitution. Dalits who change religion get education in these educational institutions, which makes them more powerful than Dalits who do not change religion.
  • In many government and non-government educational institutions related to Muslim and Christian religions, special benefits are also given to those who change their religion. In such a situation, giving reservation to them is discriminating against Dalits who do not convert, which is against the basic spirit of the Constitution and is like giving double advantage to converted Dalits over non-converted Dalits. This is also a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
  • If this happens, then this message will go to the Hindu Dalits that they are getting double benefits by changing religion. This will encourage religious conversions, which will attack the secular nature of the constitution and will violate the basic structure of the constitution.
  • This will also be a big challenge for the cultural and geographical integrity of the nation and in the long run will once again take India on the same path of separatism, which Pakistan was formed on.