New Delhi, August 2, 2022: National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) met the Thol. Thirumavalavan, a Member of Parliament and the president of the Viduthalai Siruthaikal Party on August 2, 2022, at his residence in New Delhi.
The delegates approached the Member of the Parliament to raise the long pending demand for the Scheduled Caste Origin status for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the parliament.
August 10, 2022 marks the 72nd year of discrimination based on religion against the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims by excluding them from the Presidential (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950.
On January 8, 2020, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde began hearing the lead matter (writ petition 180/2004) of delinking religion from consideration of Scheduled Caste status and making the Scheduled Castes category religion-neutral.
The Chief Justice of India assured that the matter would be taken up as soon as possible and issued notice to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Minorities and Registrar General of India asking them to respond in two weeks.
Unfortunately, due to the unprecedented situation of Covid-19, the writ petition was pending in the apex court and expected to be considered this year.
The Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950 was signed on August 10, 1950, by the then President of India which says, “No person who professes a religion other than Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the Scheduled Caste” which was later amended to include Sikhs (1956) and Buddhists (1990) in the Scheduled Caste category.
In the wake of this writ petition, the Union Government asked the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM) headed by Justice Ranganath Misra to study the conditions of Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin and give its recommendation.
The Mishra report brought out the fact that change of religion does not in any way change the socio-economic condition of Dalits and substantiated the point that Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin should be conferred the Scheduled Castes status.
The study made for the National Commission for Minorities through Prof. Dr. Satish Deshpande of Delhi University further adds that the socio-economic conditions of Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Castes Origin are the same as that of their counterparts.
Though Christianity and Islam speak about equality, Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin experience discrimination on the ground within their religious communities.
The civil writ petition 180/2004 in the Supreme Court of India praying for the deletion of paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950 is still pending for the past 18 years which the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) have also impleaded.
The case had been referred to a higher bench and still, it has not been constituted. Thus, Constitutional rights for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims are denied based on religion for the past 72 years.
In the memorandum, the NCDC delegation requested to rise to move the Scheduled Castes status case in the Parliament, through appropriate intervention in favour of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims and supporting the struggles of theirs for Scheduled Castes rights.
The delegation included V.J. George, president of NCDC, E.D Charles, general secretary, Vijay Kumar Mothukuri, treasurer, Father AXJ Bosco, advisor, S.S Waghmare, Michael Martin, Maglin Jerry, vice presidents, Father Vijay Kumar Nayak, secretary to the CBCI -Office for Dalits and Backward Classes, Pradip Barsrior from the NCCI.