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S Paul Raj V The Tahsildar, Mettur Thaluk & Anr: Religious Conversion Won't Change Person's Caste; Inter-Caste Marriage Certificate Can't Be Issued Merely On Account Of Conversion, Says Madras HC

Smriti Dubey ,
  27 November 2021       Share Bookmark

Court :
High Court of Judicature at Madras
Brief :

Citation :
Case no.- W.P.No.15193 of 2016 & W.M.P.Nos.13240 & 13241 of 2016

DATE OF JUDGEMENT
17th November 2021

BENCH
MR. JUSTICE S.M. SUBRAMANIAM

PARTIES
Petitioner- S.Paul Raj
Respondents- The Tahsildar and The District Collector

SUBJECT

Inter-caste marriage certificates are issued for the purpose of providing certain benefits to the offspring of such a marriage who suffers social stigma of being from lower class.

LEGAL PROVISIONS

Article 226 of the Indian constitution- grants the right to high court to issue Writ.

OVERVIEW

This petition was filed for issuance of a Writ of Mandamus to quash the order O.Mu.8147/14A5 dated 19.06.2015 and to also direct the Respondent to issue the inter-caste marriage certificate to the petitioner.

The petitioner belongs to Christian Adi- Dravida. He was issued a community certificate to the petitioner as backward class. The girl he married belongs to Hindu Arunthathiyar community. She was given the Community Certificate as Scheduled Caste.

The petitioner for thepurpose of availing the benefits of priority in public employment submitted an application for grant of inter-caste marriage certificate.

Contentions

The counsel for petitioners said that the government has clarified that “Where one of the spouses belongs to SC/ST, then inter-caste marriage certificate has to be issued in favour of the petitioner”. It was contended that the petitioner had been issued “backward class” certificate and his wife was issued with “scheduled caste” certificate and so, it resulted in being inter-caste marriage. And therefore,the petitioner should be allowed to get the inter-caste marriage certificate so that he can avail the benefits which include priority in public employment.

The government advocate submitted that the government has issued clarification in letter no.No.235, Social Welfare Department dated 21.07.1997 that says conversion of religion would not entail a person to get an inter-caste marriage certificate. Therefore, the petitioner was rightly rejected.

ORDER ANALYSIS

The court ruled that converting from one religion to another does not affect a person's caste. It was observed that the petitioner by birth belongs to Adi-Dravidar' community and he was issued the Backward class Certificate by virtue of conversion to Christianity and that change of religion will not change the community.

The court observed that if a converted person claims inter-caste marriage certificate, it would lead to the citizens abusing the benefit granted under the inter-caste marriage quota. As a result, an inter-caste marriage certificate must be granted only if one of the spouses is from a Scheduled Caste and the other is from another caste, but not otherwise.

Then, the court said, “When, both the petitioner and his wife belong to Scheduled Caste community by birth, merely because the petitioner by virtue of conversion changed the religion would not entail him to get the inter-caste marriage certificate.”

The court explained that the purpose and objects of issuing inter-caste marriage certificates were to provide various social welfare schemes. As a result, caste classifications such as Backward Class, Scheduled Caste, Most Backward Class, and other classes cannot be used to get an inter-caste marriage certificate.The main things that have to be taken into consideration here is the caste/community and if they (husband-wife) belong to the same caste/community, they cannot be granted inter-caste marriage certificate.

The judgement of Soosai Etc. Vs. Union of India and others, 1986 AIR 733by the Apex court was referred to by the court. This judgement defines what scheduled tribe means and further elaborates that caste system is a peculiar phenomenon to Hindu society and it is moulded into our structural hierarchy over the centuries.

Further, the court also relied on the judgement given by Andhra Pradesh High Court in M.A.Salam Vs. Principal Secretary to Government of Andhra Pradesh, 2003 (1) ALD 699. The court in this judgement has elaborated on the purpose of inter-caste marriage certificates, which is to alleviate the social stigma suffered by the off-spring, similar to the stigma their parent faced if they come from lower class.

CONCLUSION

The Madras High court in this judgement has made it clear that conversion from one religion to another does not change the caste of an individual. And if this were allowed by the government then there would be a terrible abuse of power just to get the benefits provided to by acquiring inter-caste marriage certificate.

QUESTIONS

  1. Do you think the certificate should be issued?
  2. What is the purpose of inter-caste marriage certificate?

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

 
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