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Legal SC Considers Petitions On Quotas For Dalit Muslims, Christians

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by spnadmin, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. spnadmin

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    SC Considers Petitions on Quotas for Dalit Muslims, Christians

    Nikhil Kanekal & Prashant K. Nanda

    The Supreme Court said on Tuesday there could be serious “ramifications” on reservations for scheduled castes in education and jobs after it decided to consider a public interest litigation on affirmative action for dalits who are not Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists.

    The chief justice’s bench wanted to know the possible effect on jobs and education if dalit Christians and Muslims were given reservation under the category. The litigation asks the apex court to examine why only scheduled castes who are Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists are eligible for reservation.

    It contends this is discriminatory under the Constitution as hardships faced by dalits do not disappear if they convert, and, therefore, reservation for scheduled castes should be considered across religions.

    Dalit Hindus have had reservation since the Constitution was adopted. Sikhs and Buddhists were added to this category in 1956 and 1990, respectively, according to arguments made by lawyer Prashant Bhushan before the court.

    The Rajendra Sachar committee report tabled in Parliament in 2006 had found Muslims to be lagging in education. In rural areas, fewer than 1% of Muslims were graduates. The report said the presence of Muslims in the Indian administrative service was only 3%, 1.8% in the foreign service and 4% in the police. The Ranganath Mishra panel, too, had in 2009 advocated quotas to dalit Muslims and Christians.

    “I think it was overdue,” said H. T. Sangliana, vice-chairperson of National Commission for Minorities. “Including such people from the Christian and Muslim communities would be empowering in terms of education and job prospects.”

    Sociologist Dipankar Gupta said: “Some dalits are enjoying reservation for three generations... why not give same facility to dalit Muslims and Christians.”

    Scheduled castes enjoy 15% quota in government jobs and educational institutes run by state and Union governments.

    A 2008 survey commissioned by the minorities panel had said there was a strong case for offering dalit Muslims and Christians the same constitutional safeguards available to dalit Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. “Muslim dalits are generally the worst-off among all dalits...Christian dalits, too, lag far behind non-dalit and especially upper-caste Christians,” the report had said.

    The matter will be taken up next on 14 January, by when stakeholders have to file applications to ensure their views are considered.

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