The Criteria for SC status

The Criteria for SC status

News: Recently, the Supreme Court of India has sought the petitions challenging the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950, which allows only members of Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions to be recognized as SCs excluding Dalit Christians and Muslims form its ambit. 

Who is included in the Constitutional order of 1950?
•    The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950 initially provided for recognizing only Hindus as SCs, to address the social disability arising out of the ‘practice of untouchability’.
•    On the recommendations of Kaka Kalelkar Commission 1955 the Order was amended in 1956 to include Dalits who had converted to ‘Sikhism’ and once more in 1990 to include Dalits who had converted to ‘Buddhism’. 
•    The Union government in 2019 rejected the possibility of including Dalit Christians as members of SCs, rooting the exclusion on an Imperial Order of 1936 of the then colonial government.

Why are Dalit Christians excluded?
•    The practice of Untouchability was a feature of Hindu religion and it didn’t extend to Christianity or Islam. 
•    The Registrar General of India had cautioned the government that SC status is meant for communities suffering from social disabilities arising out of the practice of untouchability.
•    Clause (2) of Article 341 for inclusion - Dalits who converted to Islam or Christianity belonged to different caste groups, as a result of which they cannot be categorized as a “single ethnic group (required for inclusion)”.

Why should they be included?
•    Several Independent Commission reports have documented the existence of caste and caste inequalities among Indian Christians and Indian Muslims.
•    Even in Sikhism and Buddhism, casteism is not present and yet they have been included as SCs. 
•    The reports argued that caste-based discrimination continues even after conversion, hence entitling these communities to SC status. 

About Registrar General of India:
•    It was established in 1949 under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
•    It’s main role is to develop a systematic collection of statistics on the size of the population, its growth, etc. Later, this office was also entrusted with the responsibility of implementing of Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 in the country.
•    It arranges, conducts and analyses the results of the demographic surveys of India including the Census of India and Linguistic Survey of India.

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