Benefit of the original caste can be claimed even after re-conversion

Supreme Court: While discussing the present case related to re-conversion the bench of V.G. Gowda and Dipak Misra, JJ., observed that the case raises certain important questions, namely that, whether after re-conversion to Hindu religion, can one claim the benefit of his/her original caste; whether such eligibility is acceptable to the members of the original caste and who should be the deciding authority to affirm that whether the specific traditions of the original caste has been followed or not. The Court, on close observation of the facts and leading case laws, laid down that benefit of the original caste can be claimed after re-conversion only if there is a clear proof showing that the individual belongs to the caste recognized under the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950; there has been re-conversion to the original religion to which the parents and ancestors belonged to; and sufficient evidence exists to the acceptance by the community.

In the present case, the caste certificate granted to the appellant under the Kerala (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Regulation of Issue of Community Certificates Act, 1996, was cancelled by the Scrutiny Committee on the grounds that he was not of a Hindu origin (the appellant’s great- grandfather belonged to Hindu Pulaya community but his grandfather had converted to Christianity) and that there is no evidence suggesting that post re-conversion the appellant has been performing the traditions of the caste. The appellant had re-converted to Hinduism and obtained a certificate from the Akhila Bharata Ayyappa Seva Sangham. Arguing for the appellant Mr. Naphade put forth that Kerala High Court wrongly interpreted Constitution Bench decision in The Principal, Guntur Medical College v. Y. Mohan Rao (1976) 3 SCC 411 while upholding the cancellation of the certificate by the scrutiny committee. The respondent counsel Liz Mathew vehemently refuted the contentions of the appellant.

In the present case, the Court preferred to refer relevant case laws and literature and further relying on Kailash Sonkar v. Maya Devi (1984) 2 SCC 91, which stated that in case of a conversion, the original caste simply gets eclipsed, which resurfaces when a person re-converts to the original religion. It was thus observed that in case of any false claims seeking benefit after re-conversion, the principle of “definitive traceability” should be applied wherein the onus shall lie on the individual claiming the benefit. It should also be proved beyond doubt that his ancestors belonged to the caste listed under the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 and he has been amicably accepted by the community. The Court thus held that the appellant post his re-conversion had been accepted completely, therefore the findings of the Scrutiny Committee are unsustainable. K.P. Manu v. Chairman, Scrutiny Committee, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 161, decided on 26.02.2015   

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