Christian, Muslim Dalits look to top court for justice

 

Move comes after government opposes granting of job ‘reservation rights’.

Dalit Christians and Muslims protest for job quota rights in Delhi in August

New Delhi:The chance for Christian and Muslim Dalits to access quota jobs now depends solely on India’s Supreme Court after the federal government on Monday announced it would not support extending them such rights.

Replying to a bill in the Indian parliament, federal minister for social justice and empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot said that the government is “not agreeable to” granting Christian and Muslim Dalits Scheduled Caste status.

In order to improve their social standing, Dalits, also known as “untouchables”, are constitutionally guaranteed “reservation rights” that permit access to particular government jobs, and seats in educational institutions. But that access has long been withheld from Christian and Muslim Dalits, who — the government argues — do not need special status since they are operating outside the Hindu caste system. Sikhs and Buddhists, meanwhile, have long been granted these rights.

“The government’s intentions were very clear from the beginning but it should at least have the minimum courtesy to discuss the issue with the two communities,” Samuel Jayakumar of the National Council of Churches in India told ucanews.com.

The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP-Indian People’s Party) took over the reins of the country earlier this year. The party is often accused of working solely on behalf of Hindus.

Now, Christian and Muslim Dalits are pinning their hopes on the Supreme Court. The case, filed by Christian Dalit rights groups, has been pending since 2004. The High Court had asked the federal government to file a reply on the issue in 2011.

The court, however, has not set a deadline for the government to reply and thus the case has been lingering for a decade.

“I don’t understand why the present government is so afraid of minority communities,” Jayakumar added.

Father Z Devasagayaraj, secretary of the office for Scheduled Class/Backward Class and tribal affairs of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, told ucanews.com that they want the government to file a reply in the court even if it is “negative”.

“We don’t expect much from this government but at least they should reply in the court,” he said.

The report of the Ranganath Commission, formed by the government, favors extension of the reservation benefits to Christian and Muslim Dalits.

The commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranganath Mishra, said in a 2007 report that denying the quota to Christians and Muslims violated the constitution, which upholds equality for all.

Hafiz Ahmed Hawari, head of the All India Jamail-ul Hawari, told ucanews.com that the government is working against the constitution by denying the two communities their rights.

“The court cannot go against the constitution otherwise everyone will lose faith in the highest temple of justice,” he said.

Source: ucanews.com

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2 Comments

  1. December 12, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    It is our right per the constitution of our great country. Who is the present government to deny us the right. I have full faith in the judicial system in India and the court will give the verdict. Shame on the Govt of the day.

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  2. December 13, 2014 at 7:42 am

    I personally am against granting reservations / amenities /perks jobs based on caste– creed or social status — If India has to go anywhere we need opportunities based on hard work and capability–
    Why are Muslims granted an allowance to go to HAJ — why not Hindus to go on pilgrimage or Christians– Jews Sikhs ?????

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