Christians, Muslims’ exclusion from SC/ST category needs review: CJI

He made the observation while hearing a National Council of Dalit Christians’ (NCDC) petition seeking reservation benefits for the Christians of the SC origin.
Christians in Jammu pray in a congregation.(AP File)
Christians in Jammu pray in a congregation.(AP File)
Updated on Jan 09, 2020 12:07 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde on Wednesday called the social exclusion of Christians and Muslims from the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) backgrounds a pertinent issue that requires the Supreme Court’s consideration.

He made the observation while hearing a National Council of Dalit Christians’ (NCDC) petition seeking reservation benefits for the Christians of the SC origin. The petition came up for hearing on Wednesday before a bench also comprising justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant. The bench separately issued a notice to the Centre in the matter.

In its petition, the NCDC has challenged paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, which says that no person professing a religion other than Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism shall be considered to be an SC. The petitioner has called the exclusion of Christians from the paragraph discriminatory and violative of right to equality under the Constitution’s Article 14. The petitioner has pleaded that religion should not be a consideration for the SC/ST status. It has sought the status for Christians of the SC/ST origin so that they can avail the reservation benefits as well as protection extended to the SC and ST communities, including under the SC and ST (Prevention) of Atrocities Act. The SC and ST communities enjoy reservation in jobs, education as well as legislatures.Of 543 seats in Lok Sabha, 84 are reserved for the SCs, while 47 for the STs. Of 4,120 seats in legislative assembly segments in the country, 614 are reserved for the SCs, while 554 for the STs.

The NCDC has submitted that social exclusion is different from religious practice and caste-based discrimination based on birth is practised throughout South Asia.

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