Supreme Court query on report in Dalit quota case
The Rangannath Mishra Commission had recommended including Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians in the Scheduled Caste list
If the report of a Commission of Inquiry has not been accepted by the government, can the empirical data that formed its basis be looked at while determining a constitutional issue, the Supreme Court wondered on Wednesday, while considering the question of quotas for Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians.
The Rangannath Mishra Commission had recommended including Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians in the Scheduled Caste list. The government has not accepted the 2007 report, calling it “flawed”, and has set up a new commission headed by former Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan.
The apex court was hearing pleas alleging that the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, violates Articles 14 (equality before law) and 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste etc) of the Constitution as it discriminates against Dalit converts to religions other than Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.
The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, says no person professing a religion other than Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.
A bench headed by Justice S.K. Kaul was told by advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for one of the petitioners, that “there is more than enough material on the basis of which the court can proceed”.
Bhushan said: “Should this court wait again and again for the government to appoint a commission? There is no reason for this court to await the report of the commission.”
Additional solicitor general K.M. Nataraj, appearing for the Centre, said the commission headed by Justice Balakrishnan is doing its work and relevant material and data have to be collected.
“There was Justice Rangannath Misra Commission. It gave its report and you, in your wisdom, said you do not accept it. You constituted another commission. Should we wait till the commission responds?” the bench asked.
Nataraj said the court should await the response of the new commission.
“My question is, if a report is not accepted, what is the status of findings in the report or the empirical data. Can we rely on the empirical data from a report which is not accepted to deal with the constitutional issue raised?” Justice Kaul wanted to know.
The bench posted the matter for resumed hearing on July 11.
Courtesy : The Telegraph
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