Person loses his status as a scheduled caste after converting to a different faith

P Rajan Vs State of Kerala

Kerala HC

28/01/2021

WP(C). No. 26459 of 2019

About/from the judgment:

The High Court heard the petition against the order of Scrutiny Committee for Verification of Community Certificates, whereby the Committee had rejected Scheduled Caste (Sambava) status of the petitioner.

The grievance of the petitioner was that he was a Hindu Scheduled Caste (Sambava) and his parents belong to Sambava Community. To substantiate his claim the petitioner produced the extract of School Admission Register, certificate of membership issued by Akhila Kerala Cheramar Hindu Mahasabha (AKCHMS), and Transfer Certificate issued by the Government Arts College, where he was given Scheduled Caste concession during his studies. Further, the petitioner had submitted a certificate of membership of Kumali Scheduled Caste Service Co-operative Society, which suggest he was even a member of Director Board of the said Society from 06-03-2010 to 05-03-2015. Also, the Tahsildar, Peermed Taluk had issued Sambava Community Certificate to the petitioner.

The Committee alleged that the petitioner and his family members had obtained Scheduled Caste (Sambava) Community Certificate with malafide intention of claiming reservation benefits and were trying to usurp the benefits available to Scheduled Castes by forging documents. The Committee contended that the petitioner actually belonged to Christian Community of Sambava origin. The petitioner's father was an offspring of Christian Sambava father and mother claiming to be Hindu Sambava. The petitioner's father, mother and siblings received baptism in the year 1993 and became members of Church of South India, Kumali. Further, it was submitted,

"The documents collected and discrete field level enquiry revealed that the petitioner's parents and siblings are following Christianity and therefore the petitioner cannot be considered as a member of Hindu religion. Consequently, he cannot be treated as a Scheduled Caste."

The Committee, therefore, rejected the Scheduled Caste (Sambava) claim of the petitioner. The State while accepting the recommendations of the Committee rejected the claim of caste status of the petitioner.

The petitioner argued that merely because the grandfather of the petitioner had converted to Christianity, it could not be assumed that he enunciated his Scheduled Caste. The Counsel for the petitioner, P.B.Krishnan while Relying on S. Anbalagan v. B. Devarajan, (1984) 2 SCC 112, urged that,

There should be a renunciation of caste by the convert and then alone, a person will lose Scheduled Caste status. Mere conversion of religion does not by itself show that the convert is not suffering from any disadvantage faced by Scheduled Castes. If the convert desires and intends to continue as a member of the caste and the caste also continues to treat him as a member, then notwithstanding his conversion, he would continue to be a member of the caste.

The petitioner argued that for the sole reason that his paternal grandfather embraced Christianity, it could not be held that the petitioner also was a Christian.

The Bench observed, though the petitioner's father married a Scheduled Caste Hindu Sambava but, those facts would not be sufficient to hold that the petitioner was a Scheduled Caste (Sambava). The Bench, while holding the documentary evidences relied by the petitioner insufficient, said that when the whole family members of the petitioner, his wife and children were living in Christian faith the onus on the petitioner to establish that he belongs to Scheduled Caste Community would be heavy. The Court stated,

"The petitioner has the burden to establish that he is living as a Hindu Scheduled Caste (Sambava,) following its customs and practices and that the Scheduled Caste Community has accepted the petitioner as one among them."

Considering the above, it was held that the findings of the Committee were entered into after anthropological enquiry and there was no reason for the Court to unsettle the findings. Thus, the petition was dismissed.

Read the Judgment

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