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'Include Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in SC List' demands National Council of Churches in India

Include Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in SC List demands National Council of Churches in India

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National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) called to observe August 10 as a day to highlight and protest the denial of the fundamental constitutional rights to Dalit christian and Dalit Muslims. The Council demanded to include Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in Scheduled Caste list.

In a statement released by the organization it said that "fundamental rights envisaged under Articles 25 to 28 of Constitution of India, which is to ensure freedom of religion have been denied to the Dalit communities converted to Christianity and Islam through the infamous Presidential (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950."

"Reservation was extended in 1956 to Sikhs and in 1990 to Buddhists of dalit origin. Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims continue to be kept outside this privilege" accused the statement

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) is the apex body and ecumenical expression of Protestant and Orthodox Churches as well as ecumenical organizations, regional councils and agencies in India.

History of the Council says that it was established in 1914 as the National Missionary Council. Later on, the Council constituted itself as the National Christian Council of India, Burma and Ceylonin 1932.

The Councils of Burma and Sri Lanka separated, and in 1979 the Council transformed itself into what is known as the National Council of Churches in India.

A Writ Petition (180/2004) was filed in the Supreme Court of India by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation challenging the Presidential (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950.

The Writ Petition looks for justice from the apex court to allow and extend the Scheduled Caste status to Christians of Scheduled Caste origin for availing special privilege in education, getting scholarships, employment opportunity, welfare measures etc.

The petition also demanded affirmative actions including right to contest in the reserved constituencies from panchayat, legislative assemblies up to the Parliament and for availing the legal remedy/protection under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes (Prevention) of Atrocities Act, 1989 which was amended in the year 2018.

The Supreme Court on 7th January 2020, had issued notice on a similiar petition filed by National Council of Dalit Christians(NCDC) seeking a direction to grant Scheduled Castes (SC) status to Dalit Christians.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde issued notice to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Minorities and Registrar General of India.

"Same thing happens in Islam also. Why should we not hear the matter together? In Islam also there is no reservation," observed the bench while seeking the government's response in two weeks. The court tagged the matter along with a similar issue and tagged the plea with other similar petitions pending before this court since 2004.

The petition filed by Advocate Franklin Caesar Thomas with Advocate Gowthaman who had appeared for NCDC said that change in religion does not change social exclusion and caste hierarchy continues to hold fort within Christianity even though the religion forbids it.

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TAGS:Dalit MuslimDalit ChristianScheduled CasteNCCI
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