ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Judicial Ghar Wapsi?

When will Para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 be deleted?

On 26 February 2015 a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court passed a judgment setting aside a Kerala High Court order to rule that one K P Manu, whose great grandfather was a Pulaya (dalit) Hindu but whose grandfather embraced Christianity, and who converted from Christianity to Hinduism in 1984, was entitled to the quota benefits if the Hindu Pulaya “community” accepted his return. Thus, second-generation dalit converts to Christianity, or for that matter Islam, who reconvert to Hinduism can now avail of the benefits of Scheduled Caste (SC) reservations in government jobs, etc, which only ­Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist dalits are now entitled to.

Two conditions have been laid down by the Supreme Court for such reconverts to avail of the SC benefits. The dalit Christian (or Muslim), now a Hindu upon reconversion, must revert to the dalit caste to which his/her great grandfather belonged, in ­effect, return to the caste quarters in his/her ghar wapsi, and those quarters (the particular “caste community”) must accept the return of their “prodigal son” (accept the reconverted ­person back into their fold). In effect, the Supreme Court ­judgment is an incentive to, and promotes, second-generation reconverts to Hinduism, opening thereby a Pandora’s box. We say this because the judgment, which on the face of it seems minor and innocent, can nevertheless turn out to have particularly far-reaching and detrimental consequences. Of course, this judgment relied on The Principal, Guntur Medical College, Guntur & Ors vs Y Mohan Rao ((1976) 3 SCC 411) allowing a first-generation dalit reconvert to Hinduism to avail of SC benefits denied to the person since his dalit parents had converted to Christianty, and it merely extends such benefits to second-generation reconverts.

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