SC issues notice to Centre on reservation for Dalit Christians

SC issues notice to Centre on reservation for Dalit Christians
New Delhi, Apr 11 (PTI) Paving the way for a high-voltage debate, the Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre on petition raising the sensitive issue of grant of reservation benefits to scheduled castes even after their conversion to Christianity.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice R C Lahoti and Justice G P Mathur issued the notice after briefly hearing counsel Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for petitioner Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL). It then posted the matter for final hearing in August.

The court on February 11 had brushed aside the Centre's stand opposing Court's intervention in matter saying it was the sole prerogative of Parliament to determine which communities were to be included in the Scheduled Caste list.

"It is matter of policy and legislation and the Courts should keep out of it," Attorney General Milon Banerjee had said on the last hearing. However, today he requested the Court to issue formal notice to the Centre so that a response could be filed.

Bhushan said when reservation benefits were available to dalits following Hinduism, Buddhism or Sikhism, there was no reason why dalit Christians be not given similar benefit.

The Court on October 25 last year had asked the Attorney General to ascertain the Centre's view on the petition which challenged the legality of paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders, 1950 by which people professing and converting faith in religions other than Hinduism, Sikhism and Budhism were deprived of reservation benefits.

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