SC upholds Cong MLA Sadique’s election: ‘Religion can change, not caste’

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Apr 29, 2016 22:44 IST
Supreme Court has upheld the 2012 election of singer Mohammad Sadique as the Congress MLA from Bhadaur segment, overturning his disqualification from the Punjab assembly by the Punjab and Haryana high court. (HT File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the election of Congress legislator Mohammad Sadique from the Bhadaur assembly segment.

The bench of justice Ranjan Gogoi and justice Prafulla C Pant allowed Sadique’s appeal challenging his disqualification from the assembly by the Punjab and Haryana high court.

The bench recorded that it was a settled law that a person can change his religion and faith but not the caste to which he belongs, as caste has linkage to birth. “The appellant (Sadique) was born to Muslim parents. However, he has proved that his family members though followed Islam but they belonged to “Doom” community (a scheduled caste community in Punjab). It is proved on record that the appellant was issued a caste certificate as he was found to be member of ‘Doom’ community by the competent authority, after he declared that he has embraced Sikhism, and he was accepted by the Sikh community,” the SC bench held.

In July, acting on his plea, the SC had stayed high court order of disqualifying Sadique as Bhadaur MLA. He was also allowed to participate in the Vidhan Sabha proceedings. However, he was restrained from participating in voting.

“It is not essential for anyone to change one’s name after embracing a different faith. However, such change in name can be a corroborating fact regarding conversion or reconversion into a religion/faith in appropriate cases. Also, it is not necessary in law that the entire family of a person should convert or reconvert to the religion which he has adopted,” the SC held, while accepting Sadique’s contention that he was a popular singer with this name. Hence, did not consider changing it, but accepted the Sikh religion and followed its rites and traditions.

SC held that Sadique had proved that his family members though followed Islam but they belonged to “Doom” community and he was issued SC certificate in 2006, which has not been cancelled so far. Nomination for election was filed by him five years thereafter.

The high court had disqualified Sadique on April 7 this year following a petition filed by Akali candidate Darbara Singh Guru in 2012, challenging his election. Guru had pleaded that being a Muslim, Sadique was not qualified to contest the election from the constituency reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates. The high court had set aside Sadique’s election holding that at the time of election, he was a Muslim and not competent to contest from an SC reserved seat.

Elated over SC verdict, Sadiq said: “I believe in the Indian constitution and judiciary. And with this judgment today, my faith has only become firmer in these institutions”.

He said he will re-contest from the Bhadaur segment and wants Darabara Singh Guru to be his opponent. “He (Guru) is frustrated after suffering defeat. People love me and they have rejected him. But he is finding it difficult to digest this defeat,” said Sadique.

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