India: Quota to SC converts under the scanner


New Delhi, Nov 27: The government today said the proposal to provide reservation to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who have converted to Christianity and Islam is being considered by the National Commission of Linguistic and Religious Minorities.
"Reservation to converts to religions like Buddhism and Sikhism which have roots in Hinduism has been provided. The proposal to include converts to Islam and Christianity is being examined by National Commission of Religious and Linguistic minorities," Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Meira Kumar said.
Replying to a debate on a private member`s bill introduced in the last session of Parliament, she said her ministry has initiated action on demands to include 513 castes in Scheduled Castes category.
Kumar said of these proposals, around 426 have been sent to states for further information.
She said the Centre has also written to states to increase incentives for those who go for inter-caste marriage with Scheduled Castes to Rs 50,000.
The Minister said it would not be feasible to grant a person, who is a Scheduled Caste in a state, same status all over the country.
"If that is done there is a threat that SCs in some states who have higher standard of education might corner benefits of SCs in backward states," she said.
On the demand to give status of STs to tea tribes in Assam, she said the matter has been referred to Registrar General of India 4-5 times and every time it has been rejected
Creamy layer to stay
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a PIL seeking exemption of the operation of the "creamy layer" rule within the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) for persons engaged in hereditary occupations.
"The moment you start class out of castes then the benefit of reservation to backward and economically backward classes will be deprived," a Bench headed by Chief Justice YK Sabharwal observed.
Holding that there was no merit in the PIL, the Bench also comprising Justices C K Thakker and RV Ravindran said, "The averments are totally against the basis on which the reservation policy is based".
"We won`t interfere," the Bench said rejecting the PIL filed by BJP MP Haribhau Rathod, who had sought exemption of operation of the rule of `creamy layer` for persons working as artisans or engaged in other hereditary occupations.
The court also did not accept the contention of the MP from Yavatmal in Maharashtra that the Centre should implement the 1993 Office Memorandum of Ministry of Social Welfare and Empowerment.

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