Supreme Court is expected to hear a batch of petitions regarding SC status for Dalit converts in March 2023

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The Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by Pratap Baburao Pandit opposing the formation of a Commission of Inquiry to examine the possibility of Dalit Christians and Muslims receiving Scheduled Caste Status. The writ petitioner is a Secretary of Pragat Padhividhar Sanghatna (a social and educational trust in Pune) and was a Christian of SC origin belonging to the Mahar community.

Requesting that the commission's functioning is to be halted and the notification forming it be revoked, an argument was made by the writ petitioner that the Union of Government formed various commissions on the currently addressed matter. In this context, the petitioner said that “The appointment of a new commission is with wrong intention of delaying the justice on the petition pending in this honorable court. The formation of this commission is not based on a real objective or real material and it is based merely on some vague allegations or hearsay evidence or to make fishing enquiry.”  

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Since 2004, multiple petitions were pending in the Supreme Court regarding the SC status for Dalit Christians and Muslims. It has been analyzed that SC status for Dalit Christians and Muslims in 2011 and 2012 was supported by the National Commission for Minorities and Scheduled Castes. On the contrary, the Narendra Modi Government is against it and maintained affidavits for the same.

In 2022, a three-member Commission of Inquiry, headed by former Chief Justice of India (Justice K.G. Balakrishnan), was formed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The primary aim of this commission was to examine ‘seminal’ questions regarding SC status for Dalit converts. A two-year time period was given to the former CJI for completing and submitting the inquiry and report respectively. It has been expected that a batch of petitions would be heard by the Supreme Court in March 2023 seeking Scheduled Caste status for Dalit converts. 

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