Status beyond faith: The panel on giving SC status to converts has its work cut out

Source: The post is based on the article “Status beyond faith: The panel on giving SC status to converts has its work cut out” published in The Hindu on 10th October 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 – Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Relevance: About historical discrimination post-religious conversion.


The Centre has appointed a three-member Commission to examine the sensitive issue of extending Scheduled Caste (SC) status to all those who have historically suffered discrimination and untouchability, regardless of the religion they now profess.

About the Panel to study SC status of Dalits post-conversion
Must Read: Panel to study SC status of Dalits post conversion
What are the previous instances of historical discrimination post-religious conversion?

In 1985, the Supreme Court agreed that historical discrimination may continue even after members of the SCs convert to other religions. But it did not decide in favour of converts being given SC status as it felt there was not enough material outlining their condition after conversion.

The National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, headed by retired Chief Justice Ranganath Mishra, also examined this issue. In its 2007 report, the panel made a categorical recommendation in favour of giving SC status to Dalits belonging to all religions. It found the caste system to be “an all-pervading social phenomenon in India shared by almost all Indian communities”.

Must read: The criterion for SC status
What are the counter-views about providing SC status post-religious conversion?

1) Social discrimination and deprivation are the consequences of the caste-based Hindu social order. So, the SC status should not be extended to those who have converted to Christianity and Islam, 2) If SC benefits are provided irrespective of all religions, then it may be seen as an incentive to mass conversion, 3) The share of the reservation pie available to Dalits among Hindus may shrink if new sections are included. There is no ‘creamy layer’ concept for SC reservation, and expanding its scope may be to the disadvantage of the current beneficiaries.

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