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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The High Court declared that mere conversion of the religion does not give access to inter-caste marriage certificates.
  • The petition was filed by S Paul Raj, pleading to quash the decision given by the District Administration of Salem and seeking a writ of mandamus to order the respective authorities to issue an inter-caste marriage certificate.
  • Castes of people have been categorized under Scheduled Tribes as amended Act of 1976. The rationale behind such a categorization is to ensure social welfare for backward classes and to create equal opportunity.
  • Justice S M Subramaniam dismissed the petition as stating that conversion of religion does not influence such an individual’s caste. Therefore, the petition was in lack of cause of action.

BACKGROUND

  • The Petitioner namely S Paul Raj originally a member of the “Adi Dravidar” community, which comes under the category of Scheduled Castes under Scheduled Tribes as Act of 1976 (amended).
  • He converted himself to Christianity and received backwards class certificate in 1985.
  • The petitioner married a lady who belonged to the caste of the Arunthathiyar Hindu community. Her caste is also listed under scheduled listings, and obtained the necessary certificate.
  • S Paul Raj requested the District administrator’s office for an inter-caste marriage certificate.
  • An inter-caste marriage is a ccertificate issued where two parties who belong to different categories under The Tribes Amendment Act of 1976 get married.
  • But unfortunately, Paul and his wife both came under the “Schedule cast”. Hence his application to District Administrator’s Office got rejected in 2015. But Paul was issued a Backward Class Certificate for his status after the conversion.
  • The claim was further taken to the High Courts of Madras by the petitioner.
  • The petitioner argued that he converted to Christianity; hence, he was no longer a member of the Adi-Dravidan cast. And was, depending on the Department of Personnel and Administration Reforms, issued government order on 28.12. 1976.

Observations of the High Court

  • Petitioner was originally a member of the caste Adi Dravidian when he converted himself from Hinduism to Christianity; This was the only change that occurred in his religion. Not the caste. Therefore, he became a “Christian Adi Dravidian”.
  • The purpose of issuing an inter caste marriage certificate is to grant communal prosperity and better opportunities for the oppressed castes.
  • A mere change of religion does not affect the cast a person belongs into. Therefore, the communal category he belongs to does not change. Since petitioner and his spouse belong to “Schedule cast” categories (Christian Adi Dravidian & Arunthathiyar)


Questions

  • What are your thoughts on Inter Caste Certificate?
  • Do you think categorization upon casts is necessary for equal opportunities?
  • Should it be considered as a ground for recruitment?
  • Do you believe the conversion of religion affects the cast/ community group a person represents?

Share your questions & opinions in the comments section below.

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