Once someone converts to Christianity or Islam, he/she is no longer entitled to the benefits admissible to Scheduled Castes (SCs), Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Parliament on Friday. He was speaking on the issue of eligibility to contest from reserved constituencies.
“Para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order outlines that …. no person who processes a religion different from Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste,” he explained. He was replying to BJP member G V L Narasimha Rao.
In 1950, the government had passed an order restricting the definition of “scheduled castes” only to members of the Hindu faith. This was later extended to to Sikhs in 1956 and to Buddhists in 1990. The Supreme Court has already upheld that the caste benefits only belong to the Indic communities.
The social and economic disabilities arising because of Hindu religion cease on conversion and it is “no longer necessary to give him protection”, the apex court had said in 2015. Incidentally, in September 2020, Legal Rights Protection Forum had found that 70 per cent of Christian pastors in Andhra Pradesh given one time honorarium of Rs 5,000 by the government had fake Scheduled Caste or Other Backward Caste (OBC) certificates.