Skip to main content

Dalits, 75% of Christian community, being denied their Constitutional right

Freelancer and social worker based at Hyderabad, Madhu Chandra,* writes:
***
“Commission for Minority Religion and Linguistic Minority” known as “Misra Commission” was setup by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government in 2005 to study and report on socio-economic condition of Christians and Muslims converted from Scheduled Caste origins. The Justice Misra Commission report was submitted on May 22, 2007. Since then UPA Government has delayed to give its consent that Supreme Court of India could give its verdict to 60 years denial of constitutional Rights to 20 million Indian Christians from Scheduled Caste origins.
The commission report has suggested to De-link Religion from Scheduled Caste and Dalits who, irrespective of their religion, suffer caste stigma and Scheduled Caste status to should be given all Dalits irrespective of their religions.
UPA Government did not give its consent as per the recommendation of Misra Commission, then why was the Commission asked to study the socio-economic condition of Dalit Christians?
Thereafter the denial of the fundamental rights to dalit Christian continues. The same demand as per the recommendation by the Misra Commission, the Dalit Christian has been looking at under the Modi 2.0 government of NDA. 70 years is the constitutional denial to the 20 million Indian Christian dalits. 70 is the good number for Christians and the hope for justice still knocks at the door.
The fundamental, birth and constitutional rights of Christians from Scheduled Caste origins have been denied for last 59 years. Supreme Court of India has been postponing the Dalit Christian reservation Civil Writ Petition for last six years, waiting for UPA Government to give its consent.
After constitutional denial of Scheduled Caste origins converted to Christianity and Muslims after the Presidential Order 1950, a million dollar question remains in the minds of Indian Dalit Christians: "Will the Judicial system of India give justice to Indian Dalit Christians now after 59 years of injustice done to them?"
India's 75% Christians belong to Scheduled Caste communities numbering to 20 millions, whose statutory and benefits available in Constitutional were denied after 1950 Presidential Order. The debate on Dalit Christian reservation is ongoing for many decades in spite of repeated assurance given to Dalit Christian communities to be included in Constitution Scheduled Caste Order 1950.

Background of Dalit Christian Reservation Movement

For first time, Indian's lowest caste known as "Untouchables" or "Depressed Classes" have been identified as Scheduled Castes introduced by Colonial Government of India in 1935.
In the following year Colonial Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order 1935 specified, "No Indian Christian shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste." Since then any Scheduled Caste origins converted to Christianity lost its Scheduled Caste status, although they remain economically, educationally, socially and politically backward as much as before their conversion.
After India got Independent from Colonial power, while framing Indian Constitution the Presidential Order of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Order 1950, the Scheduled Caste Origins converted to any other faiths or religions different from Hinduism has been left out in Para 3 of Article 341.
Dalit Sikhs protested and they are included in Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950 after six years' denial of their birth, fundamental and constitutional rights by amendment Para 3 of Article 341 in 1956.
Dalit Buddhists remained their birth, fundamental, constitutional rights of scheduled caste status denied for 40 years until the Para 3 of Article 341 was amended in 1990 to include them in the Presidential Order.
Every time Dalit Sikhs and Dalit Buddhists demanded to be included in Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950, assurances were also given repeatedly to Scheduled Caste origins converted to Christianity. The birth rights of Dalit Christians have been kept suppressed for 59 years that too without any assurance either from legislate nor political heads.

Political and Legislate Chronological on Dalit Christian Reservation

The clause of Para 3 of Article 341 in Indian Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950 clearly indicates "No person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste."
In 1950 upon the representation of Christian leaders for not including Scheduled Caste Christians in Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950, the assurance from then the Prime Minister and President via letter dated 7 November 1950 and 17 December 1950 respectively were given.
In 1953 Indian Central Government appointed "First Backward Classes Commission" under Article 340 of Indian Constitution to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within Indian Territory. The Commission submitted its report on March 3, 1955 stating that within the Christian society and church, those converts from Scheduled Caste origins are discriminated such as like not allowed to sit together inside the church, no inter caste marriages and separate cemetery etc.
This commission's report proves that although Christianity does not preach caste but practices it. If the Scheduled Caste Order 1950 is given on the basis that Hinduism has caste, then Christian converts from Scheduled Caste origin will also deserve to be listed in the Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950.
In 1979, the President of India by an Order, under Article 340 appointed the second backward commission, which is known as "Mandal Commission" to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within Indian Territory. The commission submitted its report on December 31, 1980 that "conversion from the faith to another did not change the socio-economic status of a person.
It was, therefore, desirable that converts from Scheduled Castes to Buddhism, Christianity and etc. should be treated as Scheduled Castes, but until this change was brought about by legislation, all such converts should be listed as Others Backward Classes (OBCs)" The Mandal Commission also stated that "though caste system is peculiar to Hindu society yet, in actual practice, it also pervades the non-Hindu communities in India in varying degrees."
In 1980, The Minority Commission in its 3rd Annual Report 1980 in page No. 31 said that "The Commission has prima facie felt that since the Christians, Muslims and Buddhists of Scheduled Caste origin continue to suffer from social and economic disabilities even after their conversion, there should be no objection to their availing of the concessions admissible to them before their conversion."
In 1984, The Supreme Court of India in the case of S. Anbalagan Vs. Devarajan AIR 1984 SC 411, said that "the practice of caste however irrational it may appear to our reason and however are repugnant it may appear to our moral and social sense, it so deep rooted in the India people that its mark does not seem to disappear on conversion to a different religion."
In 1993, The Union Government of India included Scheduled Caste converts to Christianity and Islam in the "Other Backward Classes" in a resolution passed on September 10, 1993 by Ministry of Social Welfare for the purposes of the reservation on 27% vacancies in civil posts and service under the Government of India.
In 1995, a memorandum signed by Members of Parliament dated May 1, 1995 submitted to Shri. P. V. Narsimha Rao, the then Prime Minister of India, for immediate inclusion of statutory benefits to the Scheduled Caste converts to Christianity and also requested to introduce the required Bill during the current session of the Parliament.
In 1996, a memorandum dated February 20, 1996 and signed by 103 Bishops of India was submitted to Shri P. V. Narsimha Rao to include statutory benefits to Scheduled Caste Converts to Christianity in Presidential SC/ST Order 1950 by promulgating an ordinance immediately.
In the same year, in a note for Cabinet dated March 3, 1996 Welfare Ministry had proposed to include Scheduled Caste converts to Christianity as Scheduled Castes in the Presidential SC Order 1950 to make them eligible for all statutory safeguards and benefits available to the members of Scheduled Caste.
The Cabinet approved this proposal at its meeting held on March 7, 1996 to introduce the Bill to amend the earlier Constitution Scheduled Caste order. Although the Bill was listed for introduction on March 12, 1996, it could not be introduced as some procedural lapse and new government was expected to assume.
In 2003, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India in its Annual Report of 2002-2003 in Chapter 3, the Scheduled Caste origins converted to Christianity did not avail all the schemes implemented for various developmental programs for Scheduled Castes.
In 2004, Centre for Public Interest Litigation through its General Secretary and T. Franklin Caesar of Tamil Nadu filed a Write Petition dated March 22, 2004 under Article 32 of the Constitution of India challenging the Para 3 of Article 341 of Constitution (Scheduled Caste Order) 1950. More than dozen of individual and advocates have filed the writ petition challenging the same Para of same Article.
This case has been going on in Supreme Court of India ever since. The next scheduled to hear on July 19, 2007.Dalits Christians are at knock at the door of Indian Judicial system.

The Chronology of Supreme Court Judgment on Dalit Christian Reservation

There are several hearings so far on Dalit Christian Reservation after writ petition filed in Supreme Court of India apart from many dates of adjourning.
1st SC Hearing: April 26, 2004, the first hearing was called where advocates of petitioner presented and it was postponed on May 3, 2004. The May 3, hearing seems adjourned.
2nd SC Hearing: April 11, 2005 hearing was called and gave the order that "Mr. B K Prasad, Advocate, present in Court, takes notice for the respondent. Formal notice need not issue. List for final hearing in the month of August 2005. All the parties seeking intervention/impalements may remain present on the date the hearing is taken up. The parties who wish to file synopsis of submissions may do so within four weeks.
3rd SC Hearing: August 23, 2005 hearing was called and gave the order that "The learned Attorney General and the learned Addl. Solicitor General make a statement on behalf of the Union of India that the issue arising for decision in these petitions is receiving the attention of the Government along with other issues in a wider perspective and pray for hearing being adjourned. Both the parties pray for a fixed date being given. List on 18th October, 2005."
4th SC Hearing: October 25, 2005 was adjourned with next hearing in the last week of November 2005.
5th SC Hearing: November 28, 2005 was called for hearing and gave the following order that the challenge in these matters is to the constitutional validity of Paragraph (3) of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Control Order, 1950. Therefore, investigation from National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities had been sought in the context of the ceiling of fifty per cent on reservation in terms of the decision of this Court in Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India & Ors. (1992 Suppl. (3) S.C.C.217). Supreme Court gave no opinion on the issues involved and gave order to wait till Supreme Court hears the matter in detail after the information is supplied. Court was adjourned with next hearing in third week of February 2006.
The hearings were scheduled on February 12, 2006 and postponed to April 5, 2006 then to July 12, 2006
6th SC Hearing: February 15, 2006 was adjourned with next hearing in the first week of April 2006 as Misra Commission delayed submission of its report.
Misra Commission called public opinion on extending Dalit Christian reservation. Two studies at Delhi were conveyed by Centre for Research and Development and Delhi University and one at Mumbai by Tata Institute. Delegations of All India Christian Council led by Dr. John Dayal attended all of these studies. Dr. Dayal termed these studies as highly skewed studies with Brahminical personalities.
Social Scientist, activists responded to these studies that conversion of Dalits to any religion did not change their social backwardness status as well as educational and economical condition. They are same as before their conversion.
The scheduled of SC hearing in first week of April was further postponed to July.
7th SC Hearing: July 12, 2006 was once again adjourned with next hearing in the month of October as Misra Commission report was yet to complete.
Misra Commission report was finally ready to submit to United Progressive Alliance Government in month of October 2006. Dalit Christian went frustrated by delaying of the Misra report and when it was finally ready to submit to UPA government, commission was instructed to delay until Uttar Pradesh Assembly election is over in first week of May.
Since the 7th Hearing on July 12, 2006, SC has listed the case in many dates where times was sought by Learned Additional Solicitor General and granted to list for latest hearing on December 1, 2009.

The Recommendations of Commissions on Dalit Christian Reservation

The present Dalit Christian reservation case in Supreme Court has been referred to Union Government to give its opinion on giving Scheduled Caste statutory and beneficiaries to the Scheduled Castes origins converted to Christianity in November 2005 hearing.
The UPA Government has setup National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities under the chairmanship of Justice Raganath Misra known as Misra Commission to investigate the economical, educational, sociological conditions of Scheduled Caste origins converted to Christianity.
Enough Commissions before Misra Commission have been setup and finding have been submitted with recommendations that Scheduled Caste origins converted to Christianity still suffer caste stigma, socially oppressed and economically, educationally and socially backward. Why then another Misra Commission? What have the commissions before Misra Commission said; will that be note valid reasons for Scheduled Caste origins converted to Christianity to include in Constitution Scheduled Caste Order 1950?
Elayaperumal Commission (1969): Report of the Elayaperumal Commission in Para 32 says "The Committee found during tours that all Scheduled Castes who got themselves converted to religions other than Hinduism should be given all concessions which are available to Scheduled Castes. This is because the Committee found during tours that they suffer from the same disabilities which the Scheduled Castes suffer."
Mandal Commission (1980): As stated above the Mandal Commission in 1980 supported that Scheduled Castes converted to Christianity be treated as Scheduled Caste as their conversion did not change the conditions of socially, economically and educationally.
Misra Commission (2005): Now the ball to give scheduled caste converted to Christianity is in the court of Misra Commission. Misra Commission will not find anything new but only charges from Sangh Parivar and affiliated organizations against Dalit Christian Reservation.
The Sangh Parivar's opposition is not only Dalit Christians but to all reservation system for Indian Dalit communities. The Commissions before Misra Commission have given enough evidence that Scheduled Caste origins converted to any religions remains the same social, economic, education status even after their conversion.
Misra Commission Report came to its expire of term after submitting its report on May 25, 2007 with four members of five recommending to extend SC status to all Dalits who converted to Christianity while Asha Das - member secretary of the commission opposed. Asha Das opposition to the commission recommendation seems like to turn the ray of hope started dawning for Dalit Christians into darkness after discrimination of 59 years of their birth rights.
Union Government of India have referred to Misra Commission Report and yet to give the consent upon which Supreme Court of India is give its verdict to 20 million Indian Dalit Christians whose Birth, Fundamental and Constitutional rights have been denied for last 59 years.

Conclusion

After 6 years of struggle, Dalit Sikhs got their birth, fundamental and constitutional rights to enjoy statutory and beneficiaries of Scheduled Caste when Para 3 of Article 341 was amended in 1950 by including Scheduled Caste origins converted to Sikhism.
Dalit Buddhists got their rights to enjoy Scheduled Caste statutory after 40 years of struggle when Para 3 of Article 341 was amended in 1990 and Scheduled Caste origins converted to Buddhism listed in Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950.
Dalit Christians are kept denied their birth, fundamental and constitutional rights for last 56 years by abstracting their names from Constitution Scheduled Caste Order 1950. The constitutional denial of Scheduled Caste origins converted to Christianity is triple oppression.
The allegation not to give Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians on the ground that Christianity does not have caste, they why Scheduled Caste status given to those Scheduled Caste origins to Sikhism and Buddhism as both the religions does not have caste.
On the other hand, if reservation for only those religions that practices caste then Dalit Christians also deserve it because they suffer caste stigma among Indian society. Dalit Christians suffer caste oppressed before their conversion and now. They suffer Religious persecution from religious fanatics and constitutional denial of their statutory from Presidential SC/ST order 1950 of which I term the triple discrimination of India Dalit Christians.
Dalit Christians seeking to be included in Scheduled Caste status is the constitution, birth and fundamental rights.
Will Indian Judicial system finally give justice to 20 Million Indian Dalit Christians whose constitutional right was taken away by Presidential Order 1950 is the million dollar worth question.
---
*Article distributed by the Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre- PMARC

Comments

TRENDING

Vishwanath has been unfairly excluded from global list of 100 best cricketers

By Harsh Thakor  Gundappa Vishwanath scaled zones in batting artistry or wizardry unparalleled amongst Indian batsmen. The best of his batting was a manifestation of the divine. He was also the epitome of cricketing sportsmanship. Sadly 40 years ago he unceremoniously bid farewell to the International cricket world, after the concluding test at Karachi in 1982-83., in January end. Very hard to visualise a character like Vishwanath being reborn today His memories are embedded in cricket lovers today when sportsmanship and grace have virtually been relegated to oblivion with the game of cricket turned into a commercial commodity. Today agro and unsporting behaviour is a routine feature Vishy shimmered cricket’s spirituality. His behaviour on the cricket field was grace personified, No one in his age defined cricket more as a gentleman’s game, than Vishy. Vishwanath could execute strokes that were surreal with his steel wrists. His strokeplay resembled the touches of a painter’s brush,

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Reproductive, conjugal rights of women in India amidst debate of uniform civil code

By IMPRI Team  A Three-Day Immersive Online Legal Awareness and Certificate Training Course on “Reproductive and Conjugal Rights of Women in India” is an initiative of the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), at the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, and ran for three consecutive days starting from December 22, 2022 to December 24, 2022. The online paid certification was aimed to provide attendees with an enriching experience on the gender discourse with a special focus on women’s rights and the much-discussed reproductive rights in India.

Covid jabs: Pretexts cited to justify young, healthy succumbing to heart attacks

By Jay Ihsan   Truth is stranger than fiction – when dedicated doctors raised the red flag against the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, they were persecuted and their concerns barred from being heard. These honest doctors unequivocally made it known the Moderna Pfizer vaccines injure the heart and human body. One of them, Dr Peter McCullough, an American cardiologist, has repeatedly issued the clarion call to people to reject these harmful vaccines. An equally alarmed World Council for Health said the harmful Covid-19 vaccines should be removed from the market and the global inoculation must be stopped. “In Japan the vaccines were not mandated or made compulsory. The vaccines are not safe or effective enough to mandate them. The day the vaccines go away will be a day of celebration,” Dr Mccullough had lamented during an interview with India’s media outfit, Qvive several months ago. Meanwhile, the number of people jabbed with the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines died soon after or have developed lifelong

Gender gap 17%, SC and ST levels of education between 7% to 14% below upper classes

By IMPRI Team  The treatment of school education in a holistic manner and improving school effectiveness in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and learning outcomes has been the aspiration of all and multiple challenges are faced to maintain and provide proper education. On the occasion of India@75: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, as part of its series- the State of Education- #EducationDialogue, #IMPRI Center for ICT for Development (CICTD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organised a special deliberation on The State of School Education In India with Prof Muchkund Dubey, who is the President of the Council for Social Development, New Delhi. The moderator for the event, Dr Simi Mehta CEO and Editorial Director of the IMPRI. The chair of the event was Prof Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, an Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) National Fellow, the Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development, New Delhi and also a Former Professor & Vice-Ch

Rahul Dravid exhibited selflessness in heights unscaled by any other Indian batsman

By Harsh Thakor*  On January 11th maestro Rahul Dravid turned 50. No Indian batsmen were ever more of an embodiment of temperament or grit.as Rahul Dravid. Dravid was the best ambassador of sportsmanship in cricket in his day and age. In his time no Asian batsmen did what the doctor ordered, to the extent of Dravid. Dravid was manifestation of single-mindedess, tenacity and selflessness in sport. One hardly has an adjective to the ice coolness and craft Dravid exhibited in adjusting to the given situation. Rarely did any batsmen exhibit such a clinical o methodical approach to batting.

NHRC blindly followed BSF status report on fencing farmland off Indo-Bangladesh border

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes an open letter of protest against the action taken status report on restriction imposed by the BSF personnel upon the villagers of Changmari near Indo-Bangladesh border: *** I have the honour to inform you that we received one action taken status report dated 11.01.2023 from your Commission in respect of the above referred case from where it is revealed that your authority closed the case based on the report of the concerned authorities. In this connection I again raise my voice as the enquiry in respect of the above referred case was not properly conducted. Hence I submit this open letter of protest for the ends of justice. From the action taken status report of the Commission dated 11.01.2023 it is reported that concerned authority submitted a report dated 18.01.2022 where it is reported that the concerned area comes under the OPS responsibility of BOP Chengmari, 62 Bn BSF and is highly susceptible to trans-bo

Data analytics: How scientific enquiry process impacts quality of policy research

By IMPRI Team  Given the multidimensionality of policy and impact research, tech-driven policy prescriptions are playing a dominant role in the 21st century. As such, data analytics have become integral in this space. IMPRI Generation Alpha Data Centre (GenAlphaDC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute New Delhi has successfully conducted a #WebPolicyTalk 6-Week Immersive Online Hands-on Certificate Training Course on Data Analytics for Policy Research, spanning over 6-consecutive Saturdays from October 15th to November 19th, 2022. Along with this, datasets for hands-on learning were also provided for data analysis and learning. Participants were required to make a submission for evaluation at the end of the course, to obtain the certificate. This course comprised hands-on data learning sessions and various expert sessions on data discourses. The course especially catered to data and policy enthusiasts – including students, professionals, researchers, and other individuals lo

Brutal assault on Delhi Univ students as fear grips present rulers on rise of dissent

By Arhaan Baaghi  Various democratic student organizations (bsCEM, fraternity, DSU, SIO, AIRSO) had planned a screening of the BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" in the Delhi University Arts Faculty, but the guards of the university and the Delhi police along with paramilitary forcefully detained the students just because we were trying to watch a documentary that scrutinizes the role of Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots. At first when the students started screening the documentary, the electricity of the department building was cut down. Students were brutally beaten by the police and university guards. Female students were also brutally manhandled and beaten. This whole incident shows the Brahmanical Hindutva fascist nature of the government and the university authority that is working as its puppet. An activist of bsCEM was manhandled by a male security guard, who tried to pull out his T shirt. Also various female activist were dragged by male security guards and their h

Great march of migrants during lockdown: Lessons not learned, missed opportunities

By IMPRI Team  A panel discussion on “The Great March of Migrants During The National Lockdown: Lessons Not Learned and Missed Opportunities” was organized by the #IMPRI Center for Human Centre for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi on the occasion of International Migrants Day, i.e December 18, 2022. Inaugurating the session, Ms Aanchal Kumari, a researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. The event was moderated by Dr Devender Singh, a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists included Prof. R.B Bhagat, Professor and Head, Department of Migration and Urban Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai; Prof Arun Kumar, Distinguished Economist, a Former Professor Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi; Ms Akriti Bhatia, Founder of People