No panel formed to consider SC status for Dalit converts: Government

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The matter of according to SC status to Dalits who have converted to Christianity or Islam over the years has been pending in the Supreme Court since at least 2004. File

The matter of according to SC status to Dalits who have converted to Christianity or Islam over the years has been pending in the Supreme Court since at least 2004. File
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Union government on Tuesday said that it had not formed a Commission to study providing Scheduled Caste status for Dalit converts, according to a written reply given in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, A. Narayanaswamy.

Editorial | Status beyond faith: On SC status post conversion

This answer was given in response to a direct question from YSRCP MP Margani Bharat, who asked “whether the government had constituted a Commission to study giving SC status for Dalit converts”.

The response came despite the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on October 6 publishing a notification forming a Commission of Inquiry to examine the demand for providing SC status to Dalit people of religions other than those notified in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950.

While saying “no” to the YSRCP MP, the government pointed to the gazette notification on the forming of the Commission. The first term of reference for the Commission, headed by former Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, was outlined as follows: “To examine the matter of according Scheduled Caste status to new persons, who claim to historically have belonged to the Scheduled Castes, but have converted to religion other than those mentioned in the Presidential Orders issued from time to time under Article 341 of the Constitution.”

The matter of according to SC status to Dalits who have converted to Christianity or Islam over the years has been pending in the Supreme Court since at least 2004. This year, the court had asked the Centre to clear its stand on the issue and the Union government had opposed according SC status to converts of these religions. However, it had informed the apex court that it had nonetheless appointed a Commission of Inquiry to look into the matter, “given its importance, sensitivity and potential impact”.

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