All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaj
National Council of Dalit Christians
Muslims and Christians of Scheduled Caste Origin (Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians) are struggling for their equal rights more than half century. They are denied equal status in their own communities; the society perceives them as untouchables and they do not get benefits of Scheduled Caste status because they profess a religion of their choice.
The third paragraph of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950, popularly known as the Presidential Order, stipulates that “no person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of Scheduled Caste.” Even a cursory reading of the Order reveals its discriminatory nature. By restricting the benefits to a particular religion, the Order has divided the entire Dalit community on the basis of religion. Instead of socio-economic and educational backwardness arising out of the traditional practice of untouchability being the criterion, religion becomes criterion for Scheduled Caste reservation.
The paragraph three of the Order violates the letter and spirit of many articles of our Constitution. Article 15 says: “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen only on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.” But here the state itself discriminates against Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin on the basis of religion.
Article 25 reads: “… all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion.” But the Order denies the freedom of religion to Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin. In fact, it amounts to forced inducement or allurement by the state by offering constitutional protection and privileges to Scheduled Castes in order to stay in a religion and by punishing them by withdrawing the same benefits if they dared to profess a religion of their choice.
The issue of Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin was referred to the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM) or the Ranganath Misra Commission by the Union Government of India. It was done in the context of the Writ Petition 180/2004 and other petitions in the Supreme Court and the Counsel informed the Supreme Court about this on the 28th November 2005.
The NCRLM report was submitted to the Prime Minister in May 2007. Till today the report has not been tabled in the Parliament. Meanwhile, opinions on extending Scheduled Caste privileges to Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin were sought from the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and it has supported the extension of Scheduled Caste privileges to Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin.
On the 23rd January 2008, the Additional Solicitor General sought eight weeks to take a decision in the above said matter. From 23rd January 2008 onwards, the Case has been posted number of times in such a way that it could not come for hearing. Now more than one and half years have passed. Justice is delayed due to the postponement of Union Government’s decision to give a reply to the Supreme Court.
We place before the Union Government the following demands:
• To table the NCRLM report in the Parliament along with Action Taken Report (ATR)
• To give a suitable reply to the Supreme Court and to extend Scheduled Caste Privileges to Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin.
• To delete paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 that discriminates against the Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin on the basis of religion. It is a blot on the secular Indian democracy.
New Delhi 30-07-2009
(Shri Ali Anwar, MP, Rajya Sabha)