Thursday, February 22, 2024

Jaya wants Centre to include SC Christians in SC list


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Chennai: Noting that social tensions of unbalanced growth between Hindu scheduled castes and Christian converts have only “aggravated” over time, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday said the Centre should treat scheduled caste Christians on par with Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists and include them in the SC list.

“The social tensions over the status of unbalanced growth between Hindu scheduled castes and Christian converts have aggravated over time and a sense of alienation among the minority communities has further deepened. I wish to emphasise that the matter cannot brook any further delay,”, Jayalalithaa said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Requesting Singh that the SC Christians be included in the list of Scheduled Castes annexed to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, she said to enable this, as recommended by the Ranganath Mishra Commission, para 3 of the Order must be deleted.

Prompt action should now be taken by the Government to initiate the necessary statutory steps to include all Scheduled Castes irrespective of religion within the ambit of the status of SCs listed in the Order, and bring in necessary legislation in the current session of Parliament, she noted.

Continuing to keep the benefits of reservation in public services “out of reach” of scheduled caste Christians because of the “restrictive definition” of scheduled caste found in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, is an “ongoing injustice” and must be ended “forthwith”, she urged.

She wanted the Centre to file counter affidavits supporting the request of SC Christians, for early disposal of pending pleas in Supreme Court challenging the validity of para 3.

Holding that the Order was not “carved on stone”, Jayalalithaa said it must be amended in tune with the socio-economic realities of modern day India.

Referring to the Order that SCs means such castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within such castes, races or tribes as are deemed under article 341 to be “Scheduled Castes” for the purposes of the Constitution, she said it is apparent that the Constitution does not confine the category of SCs to any select religion.

By extending benefits of positive affirmation to a certain category of persons and to specific religions like Hinduism, Sikhism and excluding from its purview citizens of other religions is not only “ultra vires” of Art 341 but also “militates” against the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution to liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship to all its citizens, she said. (PTI)


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