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Person Loses Scheduled Caste Status on Conversion To Different Faith Rules Kerala High Court

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Does conversion to another faith strip a person of their Scheduled Caste status? Does the conversion of one’s parents or grandparents affect your status as a member of the Scheduled Castes? A petition on this matter was heard in the Kerala High Court today by Justice N. Nagaresh.  The petition was filed in response to the rejection of the Scrutiny Committee for Verification of Community Certificates decision to withhold Scheduled Caste (Sambava) status from the petitioner.

Matter of Contention

The petitioner in the case claimed to a Hindu Sambava and had produced certificates to substantiate the same. This includes the like of School Admission Register, Transfer Certificate issued by his college among others. He also produced Sambava Community Certificate from the Tahsildar of the Peermed Taluk, that was also used to substantiate his claim of being a member of the Sc community.

The defendants took the stance, that this was a matter where the petitioner was claiming to be a Sambava with the intention of getting the benefits of reservation. They also furthered their arguments by claiming that the documents produced were forged.

Arguments

The main argument that the defendants put forward was that the grandfather of the petitioner had converted to Christianity. The petitioner’s father was a Sambava Christian and mother claimed to be a Sambava Hindu. The Committee also reported that the father, mother and siblings of the petitioner had converted to Christianity by undergoing baptism and were members of the Kumali Church of South India.

The petitioner claimed his grandfather’s conversion did not make him Christian by putting forth the judgement in the case of S Anbalagan v B. Devarajan ((1984) 2 SCC 112) and furthered his statements by claiming that his grandfather’s conversion to Christianity did not deem his religion as Christian. He said that mere conversion did not mean the renunciation of his Scheduled Caste status.

Judgement

The Court held that even though the petitioner’s father was married to a Hindu Sambava, it was not adequate proof that the petitioner was a Sambava himself.  The Court held that the evidence produced by the petitioner was not adequate, and considering the fact that the family of the petitioner was living in Christian faith stated that the “petitioner has the burden to establish that he is living as a Hindu Scheduled Caste” which was not substantiated. The Court dismissed the petition on the grounds that the Committee’s findings were well-grounded.  The Court also found no grounds to dismiss the findings as it was based on ‘anthropological research.’

P.Rajan v State of Kerala (WP(C) No. 26459 of 2019(F))


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