Booking advantage issue: SC gives Center three weeks to get to current record position

PTI, August 30, 2022, 6:02 PM IST

The Supreme Court granted the Center three weeks on Tuesday to clarify its position on pleas, including those raising the question of the benefits of Scheduled Caste (SC) reservation to Dalits who have converted to Christianity and Islam.

One of the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court sought a reservation for converted Dalits on the same footing as that extended to Scheduled Castes after Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

Another petition asked for instructions from the government that Christians of Scheduled Caste descent receive the same reservation benefits reserved for Scheduled Castes.

A bench headed by Justice SK Kaul was told by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the issue had ramifications and would record the government’s current position.

“The Solicitor General submits that he wishes to record the current position of the matter in question, which deals with the request for extension of the reservation claim of the Dalit communities to other than that specified. At his request, a period of three weeks is granted,” said the bench, which also includes judges AS Oka and Vikram Nath.

The bench said the legal issue at issue needed to be resolved.

“All these cases that are on hold because of these ‘social ramifications’…and when the day comes, we have to take a call,” the bench observed orally.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing one of the petitioners, said the government had previously appointed Judge Ranganath Misra’s Commission, who provided a very detailed report on the matter.

“He is partly right that a commission was appointed, Judge Rangnath Misra’s commission. But it is possible that he missed the fact that the government of the day did not accept the recommendations of the commission on the grounds that he failed to consider several facts,” the Solicitor General said.

The panel, which posted the case for hearing on October 11, asked the parties to file their brief briefs.

One of the petitions pending before the supreme court said that a person belonging to a scheduled caste professing a religion different from Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism cannot be deprived of the benefit of paragraph 3 of the 1950 order. on the constitution (scheduled castes).

He said that the change of religion does not change social exclusion and that the caste hierarchy continues to prevail within Christianity, even if the religion forbids it.

The petition argued that Section Three of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Ordinance 1950 prohibits Christians of Scheduled Caste descent from claiming Scheduled Caste status.

He said the restriction violated the fundamental right to equality, religious freedom and non-discrimination.

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