//Quota for Dalit Muslims, Christians rejected

Quota for Dalit Muslims, Christians rejected

Aarti Dhar, The Hindu , 22 Feb 2007

  • Commission says untouchability is peculiar to Hinduism only
  • No reservation for a person who adopts Islam or Christianity
  • Sikh and Buddhist Dalits, deemed part of Hinduism, to benefit

NEW DELHI: The National Commission for the Scheduled Castes has rejected the demand for reservation for the Dalit Muslims and Christians on the ground that untouchability — the main criteria for reservation for this community — was peculiar to Hindu religion only.

Talking to reporters here, acting chairperson of the Commission Fakirbhai Vaghela said once an individual adopted Islam or Christianity, he did not face the social stigma of untouchability, and hence should not fall within the purview of reservation. "As it is, we are unable to fill the existing reserved vacancies,'' he said.

Clarification

Mr. Vaghela clarified that Sikh and Buddhist Dalits were entitled to reservation because these sects were considered part of Hinduism under the Constitution.

The Commission has also recommended to the Government that if girls from the Scheduled Caste community married a non-Scheduled Caste, their children should also not be entitled to reservation as it would disturb the social balance within the family and the children from the Scheduled Caste parents would be deprived of this benefit. "Also, the incidence of misuse of benefits and safeguards provided for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes will escalate.''

On creamy layer

Pointing out that the creamy layer should be excluded from the OBCs since their basis for reservation was economic backwardness and once anyone became financially sound he should be outside the purview of reservation, Mr. Vaghela said the situation was different for the SCs as the stigma of untouchability prevailed even if the family or an individual was economically well-off.

The Commission has been in favour of population-based reservation for all categories.

Highly recommending reservation in the private sector, Mr. Vaghela said it was necessary because most of the jobs were now in this sector and these companies were getting land at a subsidised cost and other benefits that should also percolate down.

Concern over atrocities

Expressing concern over increasing incidence of atrocities against the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, high pendency of cases and low conviction rate, the Commission has also recommended setting up of special courts in all districts to deal with these cases in a time-bound manner and also create a panel of advocates, each having a minimum of seven years of experience, to fight these cases. It has also suggested grant of arms licence to Dalits for self-defence.

Besides recommending holding the Collector and the Superintendent of Police of a district accountable for atrocities on Dalits, Mr. Vaghela said an officer's attitude towards the oppressed classes should be included in the Annual Confidential Report (ACR).

There was a provision under the Prevention of Atrocities Against the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act of not granting bail to the accused but this was not being followed and this should be implemented strictly, Mr. Vaghela said.

On the issue of getting employment on the basis of fake caste certificates, the Commission has said that such people should be terminated without any notice.