The Supreme Court on Monday granted six weeks to the Centre for its response on a plea for treating certain groups within the Muslim community as Scheduled Castes for the purpose of quota benefits in jobs and education.
"Why don't you find out the policy of the government on the issue and let us know?" a Bench of Justices P Sathasivam and BS Chauhan said while directing the Centre to file its response.
The Bench said since it has to be a policy decision, it was for the government to come out with its stand as the courts have limited role in the matter.
Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said a similar petition seeking SC, ST status for certain class of persons within the Christian community was pending before another Bench and sought six weeks time to file the reply.
The apex court passed the directions on a PIL filed by an NGO in 2008 contending that Muslim Dalits like Hindu khatiks, are engaged in the profession of slaughtering goats and have not been given Scheduled Caste status.
It was contended that originally, both sets of khatiks were the same community and there is documentary proof to the effect that the Muslim Khatiks are local converts but they are not guaranteed SC status like their Hindu counterparts, the PIL filed by Akhil Maharashtra Muslim Khatik Samaj said.
Counsel Mushtaq Ahmad said the Samaj was seeking parity-based constitutional relief for Muslim counterparts of the Hindu SCs on the ground that the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 is unconstitutional as it is religion-based.