In a move that could have profound implications that could have a wide-reaching impact, the Centre is going to form an entire national commission to investigate the social economic, political and educational situation of people belonging to Scheduled Castes or Dalits who have changed religions to other that Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, Deccan Era has discovered.
The idea of setting up the commission is continuously discussed at the Centre and a decision is expected to be made in the near future according to information.
Sources from The Ministry of Minority Affairs and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) confirmed that they had given the green light to move forward with the proposal. It has been reported that consultations on the plan are taking place between the departments of Home, Law, Social Justice, and Empowerment as well as Finance.
The idea of establishing this commission is significant due to the numerous petitions that are pending before the Supreme Court seeking SC reservation benefits for Dalits who have converted into Christianity as well as Islam.
The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, as per Article 341 provides that anyone who practices any other religion than Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism could be considered part of the Scheduled Caste. The original order that stated only Hindus were considered to be SCs was modified by the government in 1956, to also include Sikhs and, in 1990, to include Buddhists.
The 30th of August, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta advised a Supreme Court bench comprised of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and also composed of justices Abhay S Oka and Vikram Nath that he would put on record the Government’s position regarding the issue brought up by petitioners. The Court granted the Attorney General three weeks’ time and listed the issue on the 11th of October.
“Solicitor General” states that he wishes to record his current positionand position on the subject that concerns the request for the extension of reservations from Dalit community to different religions that are not that are specifically mentioned. In response to the basis of his request the three-week time can be granted. Counsel for petitioners/appellants say they will submit an answer, if they have one within one week after the hearing,” the bench stated.
The Indian Express has learnt that the proposed commission could comprise at least three or four members with its chairman having the rank that of Union Cabinet Minister and possibly a timeframe of more than a year for the submission of its report.
Also The argument for constitutional protections being extended for Muslim as well as Christian Dalits
In addition to analyzing the changes in the status and circumstances for Dalits who have made the switch towards Christianity or Islam The proposed commission will also look at the effects of adding additional members to the existing SC list.
The subject is limited to Dalits as there isn’t a any specific religious requirement for STs and OBCs. “The rights of a person belonging to a Scheduled Tribe are independent of his/her religious faith,” declares in the DoPT website. Additionally, as a result of in the execution of the Mandal Commission report, several Christian and Muslim communities have been placed in the Central or States OBC lists. OBCs.
One of the main benefits offered to those from the SC community is a 15 percent reservation for direct employment in Central government posts, which includes 7.5 percent to STs and 27 percent the quota for OBCs.
The issue of SC reservations benefits for Dalits who have converted towards Christianity or Islam has been discussed before the previous governments, as well.
Then, in October of 2004, the UPA Government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh established the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities led by the former Chief Justice of India Justice Ranganath Misra to recommend actions for the wellbeing of the economically and socially backward groups of the linguistic and religious minorities.
In May 2007 in May 2007, the Ranganath Misra Commission submitted its report, which recommended for SC status be totally separated from religion, and that it be completely secular similar to STs. The previous UPA Government did not accept this recommendation on the ground that it was not supported through field studies.
A separate study that was commissioned from the National Commission for Minorities in 2007 found the following: Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims should be granted SC status. This conclusion, too was not endorsed on the basis because it relied on tiny sample sizes , which could have produced inaccurate estimates.
Sources from the Ministry of Minority Affairs said the most recent proposal to set up an advisory commission was driven due to the belief that although it is an issue of primary importance, there isn’t evidence-based data that can be used to analyze the various aspects of it and determine a clear decision.