The Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, said that according to the Constitution of India, Scheduled Caste Hindus are eligible for reservation benefits but they cannot avail the same benefits if they convert to Christianity or Islam.

The Law Minister also stated that converts to Islam and Christianity cannot contest from parliamentary or assembly seats reserved for Scheduled Castes.

The Lam Minister responded to a question by Rajya Sabha MP, GV Narasimha Rao to state that said, “Para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order outlines that… no person who professes a religion different from Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.

He further said that persons embracing Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist faiths would be eligible for contesting from SC reserved seats and enjoy reservation benefits.
Mr Prasad said that, “There was no proposal to bring in an amendment in the Representation of the People Act to exclude SCs or STs converting to Islam or Christianity from contesting parliamentary or assembly elections.”

Reservations in India started in 1950 by which the Nehru government passed an Constitutional Order restricting the benefits of reservations to “Scheduled Caste” to members of the Hindu faith. However, it was later extended to Sikhs in 1956 and to Buddhists in 1990 because they are seen as part of the larger Sanatana Dharma.

The Supreme Court in a 2015 ruling reiterated the Constitutional position and stated that once a person ceases to be a Hindu and converts to Christianity, the social and economic disabilities arising because of Hindu religion cease and hence it is no longer necessary to give such a person benefit of the provision and therefore he is not deemed to not to belong to a Scheduled Caste.

In the Kailash Sonkar vs. Maya Devi case, the Supreme Court applied the doctrine of eclipse to state that once the person reconverts to the Hindu faith from Christianity or Islam, the caste automatically revives and the person can avail benefits of reservation available to Scheduled Caste Hindus. The Supreme Court said “when a person is converted to Christianity or some other religion the original caste remains under eclipse, and as soon as during his/her lifetime the person is reconverted to the original religion the eclipse disappears and the caste automatically revives.”

The Supreme Court also stated in a ruling that if a person whose ancestors belonged to a caste categorized as a scheduled caste, chose to return back to the Indic faiths from Christianity or Islam, they will be entitled to reservation benefits.

However, in practice the Christian Missionaries convert stealthily many Hindus to Christianity and register them under the Non-Registered Christians Register, that is they do not formally show their religion as Christianity even after renouncing Hinduism as they would stand to lose the benefits of reservations under the Constitution.

In September 2020, investigations conduction by Legal Rights Protection Forum found that in Andhra under Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy, 70% of the 29,841 Christian pastors, who received one-time government honorarium of ₹5,000 through the Disaster Relief Fund, hold Scheduled Caste / Other Backward Caste certificates illegally.

The analysis found that, there was a sharp rise in Scheduled Caste Population from Census data of 1971 and 2011, while it corresponded with a sharp fall in the Christian population for the same period. This phenomena is possible when large numbers of Christians have fraudulently declared themselves as Hindu-SCs and obtained SC certificates to enable themselves to illegally corner all the benefits meant for improving the social and economic status of SCs and obtained illegally reservations in jobs and education. 

Notably, Tamil Nadu too is a main centre of Christian evangelism where missionaries fraudulently lure Dalits and convert them to Christianity. Shockingly, a Christian pastor from Tamil Nadu ‘Bishop’ Godfrey Noble recently claimed that Christians make up 35% of the population in the state.

The said Christian Pastor openly gave away the strategy adopted by the Church to circumvent the provisions of the Constitution, by not formally declaring the converted Dalits as Christians, as it would take way their reservation benefits.

The Christian Pastor said, “Officially Christians make up 7% of the population. It is said that this has gone up to 12% now. But in reality, Christians are 35% of the population. You may ask how.. there are so many Dalits who have converted to Christianity. Apart from the Christians present in Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, and Kanyakumari, across India, Christians are Dalits who got converted. Since after conversion, they do not get benefits meant for Scheduled Caste as they get shifted to BC (Backward Community), close to 91% of the converts declare themselves as Hindus in government records to enjoy those benefits”.

It is quite surprising that despite this open admission by the Church government has not taken any steps to find the fraudster Christians misrepresenting themselves as Dalits so they can be divested of the benefits cornered by them through fraud. Other than this their should be also criminal prosecution of such persons under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for misrepresentation and fraud. The members of the Church should be also prosecuted for conspiring and avidly advocating to commit fraud to violate the provisions of the Constitution.

Unless we take such strong legal actions against the Church and the converted Christians illegally obtaining reservation benefits available under the Constitution, we would never be able to curb these illegal practices.

Also, the centre should seriously consider banning of conversions to any of the Abrahamic faiths in India and declare Sanatan Dharma, i.e. all faiths which originated in India as protected and endangered faith and culture.

News Source: The Commune Magazine, Image sourced from internet.

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