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Tamil Nadu adopts resolution for Constitutional amendment to provide benefits to Dalit Christians

By, Chennai
Apr 20, 2023 01:31 AM IST

The assembly passed the resolution while the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) leaders walked out in protest.

The Tamil Nadu assembly passed a resolution on Wednesday calling on the Centre to amend the Constitution and extend the same rights, protection, concessions and reservation to scheduled caste people who converted to Christianity.

Chennai, Apr 19 (ANI): Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin speaks in the State Legislative Assembly, in Chennai on Wednesday. State Government passes a resolution in the Assembly urging the Union government to bring amendments in the laws to give reservation to the Adi Dravidians who have converted to Christianity. (ANI Photo) (ANI)

The resolution called on the “Government of India to amend the Constitution to extend statutory protection, rights, and concessions, including reservation, to Scheduled Castes who have converted to Christianity”, so that they can avail the benefits of social justice in all aspects.

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The assembly passed the resolution while the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) leaders walked out in protest.

Chief minister MK Stalin, who introduced the resolution, said it was unfair to deny Dalit Christians the rights enjoyed by other members of the Adi Dravidar (Dalit) community on the grounds of religious conversion.

“People have the right to practice the religion of their liking, but their caste doesn’t change. Adi Dravidar people continue to suffer caste atrocities such as untouchability even after converting to other religions,” Stalin said.

“Our stand is that they (Dalit Christians) should not be denied rights just because they converted to another religion. Caste is a social malady.”

Stalin urged the justice (retired) K.G. Balakrishnan Commission, appointed by the Union government in October 2022 to study whether reservation can be extended to Dalit Christians and Muslims to submit its report only after gathering the views of state governments.

Currently, the constitutional right to reservations in jobs and education as SC is extended only to people from Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist faiths, in accordance to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950. But activists have argued for decades that the umbrella of SC reservation should be extended to Dalit people who have converted to Christianity or Islam.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing petitions that argue that scheduled caste quotas should be extended to Dalit Christians and Muslims. In December 2022, the Union government told the apex court that a report of the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission , which recommended providing SC quota to Dalits who converted to Christianity and Islam was flawed.

BJP’s Mahila Morcha national president and Coimbatore (South) MLA Vanathi Srinivasan led the party’s walkout.

Srinivasan said, “The central government is already looking into this issue through the Balakrishnan commission and that the matter was also being heard in the Supreme Court. Even last week, this came up in the Supreme Court, and the case has been adjourned to July. So, when it is in court, and the central government is looking into it, why does this resolution need to be brought in now?”

Stalin cited the inclusion of Sikhs in 1956 and Buddhists in 1990 through constitutional amendments and said that the Adi Dravidars (Dalits) who converted to Christianity were also expecting a similar amendment. “In Tamil Nadu, Dalit Christian students and research scholars avail several scholarships, and it is only fair that they also receive the benefits of reservation,” he said.

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