October 18, 2021

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

Going to church or displaying cross can’t be ground to cancel SC certificate, Madras high court rules

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Going to church or displaying cross can’t be ground to cancel SC certificate, Madras high court rules
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Going to church or displaying cross can’t be ground to cancel SC certificate, Madras high court rules
Going to church or displaying cross can’t be ground to cancel SC certificate, Madras high court rules

MADURAI: Can a ‘Holy Cross’ and other religious symbols and practices displayed by a dalit be cited to cancel his/her SC community certificate? No, said Madras high court, calling it a bureaucratic narrow-mindedness the Constitution never foresaw.
Merely because a member of the dalit community married a Christian and her children have been recognised as members of her husband’s community, the SC certificate issued to her cannot be cancelled, held the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice M Duraiswamy.
The court made the observations while allowing a petition filed by P Muneeswari of Ramanathapuram district in 2016, seeking to quash a 2013 order passed by the district collector cancelling her community certificate. A doctor by profession, she was born to Hindu pallan (a Scheduled Caste) parents and certified so in accordance with law. She then married a Christian and raised her children also as members of Christian community.
Citing this, her certificate was revoked. When she challenged the decision in court, officials said they visited her clinic and found a ‘cross’ hanging on the wall. On this basis, the officials conjectured that she had converted to Christianity and was, thus, disqualified from retaining the Hindu pallan community certificate.
Slamming the argument, the first bench said: “There is no suggestion in the affidavit that she has abandoned her faith or that she has embraced Christianity. It is equally possible that she, as a part of a family, may accompany her husband and children for Sunday matins, but the mere fact that a person goes to church does not mean that such person has altogether abandoned the original faith to which such person was born.”
The judges further said: “The acts and conduct of the authorities portray a degree of narrow-mindedness that the Constitution does not encourage.” It would do well for the members of the scrutiny committee to approach the matter with a broader mind than is evident in the present case, they said.
Observing that the action taken by the authorities appeared to be arbitrary and based on surmises and conjectures without support of any material fact, the judges quashed the order passed by the district collector and directed the authorities to restore the certificate originally issued in favour of Muneeswari with immediate effect.
The judges said that in the counter affidavit filed by the authorities, some specious excuses have been proffered and that they cannot be accepted.

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