Priyanka Singh

Published on: October 8, 2022 at 20:33 IST

The Centre has appointed a Commission headed by former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan through a notification dated 06,10,2022, to examine the assigning of the Scheduled Caste status to the people who have converted to other religions but have historically belonged to the Scheduled Castes category.

The assignment excludes those religions listed in the Presidential Orders under Article 341 (Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism) of the Constitution of India.

The notification highlights particular groups who also oppose the proposal which other groups have raised queries of existing definitions of the Scheduled Caste.

The notification says, “Given its importance, sensitivity and potential impact, any change in definition in this regard should be on the basis of detailed and definitive study and extensive consultation with all stakeholders and no commission under the Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952 has so far enquired into the matter.”

The constitution of the Committee also includes two members who are: Dr. Ravindra Kumar Jain, retired IAS officer and Prof. Dr. Sushma Yadav, Member, UGC.

The committee shall study –

  • Consequences of adding new persons under the Scheduled Caste definition apart from default members;
  • Changes that Scheduled Caste persons go through when converting to other religions with regards to customs, social status and traditions, etc.;
  • Comparison of them after being conferred the status of Scheduled Caste.

The headquarters of the commission shall be at New Delhi with compliance to submit its report within two years.

Background –

Referring to a 2007 report, the National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) filed a PIL seeking a direction to grant Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians that is currently pending before the Supreme Court.

The referenced report was submitted by the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities finding merit in granting Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians.

The Supreme Court, on 31st August 2022, asked the Centre about its stand on the current issue.

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