Conversion will not change caste of a person: Madras HC

Judgment addresses matter of issuance of certificates in case of inter-caste marriage, and makes observations about impact on caste-based reservations

Madras High Court

The Madras High Court has ruled that the caste into which a person is born will not change after religious conversion. In a recent judgement the HC said, “This Court is of the considered opinion that conversion from one religion to another religion will not change the caste of a person (to) which he belongs.”

The matter pertains to one S. Paul Raj of Salem District who was born into the Adi Dravidar Community, a Scheduled Caste (SC) but later converted to Christianity, following which he was granted a Backward Class certificate. He married a woman hailing from the Hindu Arunthathiyar community, also a Scheduled Caste (SC). Based on this, the petitioner had sought an “inter-caste marriage certificate”, to avail benefits such as priority in employment as is offered in the state of Tamil Nadu in case of inter caste marriage certificate holders.

The Court observed, “In the present case, the petitioner admittedly belongs to Christian Adi-Dravidar community and by virtue of conversion to Christianity he was issued with the Backward Class certificate. However, by birth, the petitioner belongs to ‘Adi-Dravidar’ community and change of religion will not change the community. The classification of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Most Backward Classes, Backward Classes and Other castes will not change the caste.” Based on this, the court held, “Therefore, by conversion from one religion to another religion, the caste of the person remains unchanged and therefore based on the conversion to other religion, intercaste marriage certificate cannot be issued.”

The court further clarified, “In the event of converted person claiming inter-caste marriage certificate, it would pave way for the citizen to abuse the benefit to be granted under the inter-caste marriage quota. The repercussion will be large and therefore the inter-caste marriage certificate has to be issued only if any one of the spouses belongs to the Scheduled Caste and other spouse belongs to the other caste, but not otherwise.”

The entire order may be read here: 



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