Scheduled Caste Reservation: Supreme Court asks Centre to explain its stand on converted Dalits within three weeks

Court pulls up Centre for not filing a response during the long gap of 18 years

Supreme court

On August 30, the Supreme Court issued directions while hearing the petition filed by an organisation named National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) 18 years ago, seeking a direction to grant Scheduled Castes (SC) status to Dalit Christians.

The Court asked the Centre to provide its current stand on the issue of extending the benefit of reservation available to the Scheduled Caste community to Dalits who have converted to other faiths, reported LiveLaw.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, AS Oka and Vikram Nath directed the Union Government to file its affidavit within a period of three weeks, and the petitioners were directed to file a response within a week thereafter. The order dated August 30, 2022, informed both the parties that three weeks means 21 days and one week means 7 days and asked the parties to file a short synopsis running into not more than three pages each, at least three days before the next date i.e. October 11, 2022.

Justice Kaul reportedly emphasised, “I find it exasperating that no one files pleadings on time. Then the whole schedule gets awry.”

To support their case, Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing on behalf of the petitioner referred to the 2007 report submitted by National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, under the chairpersonship of retired CJI Ranganath Mishra which had found merit for granting Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians. It brought to the Court’s attention how the report had suggested a sub-reservation.

Speaking of reservation within reservation, Justice Kaul reportedly remarked, “Reservation within reservation. Then the issue would be, can it apply. In the OBC category it has been done but whether it can be done in the SC category will be another question of law.”

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that there won’t be any requirement to extend reservation after the conversion as the conversion is done to ensure the ill effects of being a Dalit are taken away. Therefore, in his opinion Dalit after converting to other religions should not continue to get benefits available for the Schedule Caste community.

Speaking of the report by Ranganathan Commission, SG Mehta informed the Court that the Government of the day does not accept the recommendation of the Commission on the ground that it has not taken into consideration several factors, reported LiveLaw. To which Justice Kaul enquired, “When was affidavit filed that you do not accept the Commission report? Was it in the last 7-8 years or before that?”

SG Mehta responded stating that he is not aware of any such affidavit and then sought a few weeks’ time to file an affidavit stating the government’s stand on the issue.

Accordingly, the matter has been listed on October 11, 2022.

A copy of the order maybe read here: 



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