The Supreme Court today held that a person can be accorded Scheduled Caste (SC) status on his re-conversion to Hinduism if he is accepted by fellow caste men and proves that either he or his forefathers previously belonged to that caste before embracing another religion.
“In our considered opinion, three things that need to be established by a person who claims to be a beneficiary of the caste certificate are (i) there must be absolutely clear-cut proof that he belongs to the caste that has been recognised by the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950;
“(ii) there has been reconversion to the original religion to which the parents and earlier generations had belonged; and (iii) there has to be evidence establishing the acceptance by the community. Each aspect, according to us, is very significant and if one is not substantiated, the recognition would not be possible,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra and V Gopala Gowda said.
The court’s judgement came on a plea of K P Manu, a Kerala resident, who had challenged the Kerala High Court verdict.
Manu, who was born as a Christian as his grandfather had embraced the religion after leaving Hinduism, became Hindu again at the age of 24 and was granted SC certificate of ‘Hindu Pulaya’ caste to which his ancestors belonged.
However, later on a complaint, a scrutiny committee held that he cannot be treated as a Hindu on the ground that his forefathers were Christians and he himself had married a Christian woman. This finding was affirmed by the HC as well.
On the basis of the report of the scrutiny committee, the state government took action and directed the employer of Manu to remove him from service and recover a sum of Rs 15 lakh towards the salary paid to him.
However, the apex court set aside the HC verdict.