Posted In: News National / Poll . By Shamsheer Ali
It is looking into report on Misra panel recommendations
15% quota for SCs should not be disturbed: National Commission
1950 Presidential Order violative of Article 14: petitioners
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has granted the Centre eight weeks to take a decision on providing quota for Dalit Christians on a par with the Scheduled Castes.
The Justice Rangnath Misra Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities had recommended reservation for Dalit Christians.
Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramanian told a three-judge Bench that the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), which had been asked to look into the Misra Commission recommendations, submitted its report and the government was looking into it. The Bench, comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal, accepted his plea for time and adjourned the hearing.
The court is examining the constitutional validity of Paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 by which the SCs are deprived of reservation on their conversion to Christianity.
The NCSC made it clear that reservation should be extended to Dalit Christians but the share of 15 per cent for the SCs should not be disturbed. It said the element of reservation for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims should be determined by the government keeping in view their population. However, as per the Supreme Court direction, the overall reservation of 50 per cent had to be maintained.
Mr. Subramaniam handed over to the Bench the extract of the NCSC’s views deliberated on at a meeting held on December 18, 2007. The meeting considered the views of the Misra Commission and the Prime Minister’s High Level Committee — Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India, on the specification of SC converts to Christianity and Islam as SCs. It concluded that though Dalit Christians/Muslims could be given a quota, the existing 15 per cent reservation for the SCs should not be disturbed.
The Bench is hearing petitions filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation and others challenging the 1950 Presidential Order. The petitioners said the 1950 order, as it stood today, violated the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution. For, the SCs converting into Christianity were deprived of the benefit given to people from the same community in other religions. There could not be any distinction between SC converts to Sikhism and Buddhism and SC converts to Christianity, the petitioners said.