Display Holy Cross Without Reason to Cancel Listed Caste Certificate, Says Madras HC | India News


MADURAI: Can a Holy Cross and other religious symbols and practices displayed by a Dalit be invoked to void his listed caste certificate? No, the Madras High Court said, calling it a “bureaucratic narrow-mindedness” that the Constitution never intended.
In a recent order, the First Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice M Duraiswamy held that simply because a member of the Dalit community married a Christian and his children were recognized as members of the community of his husband, the SC certificate issued to him cannot be revoked.
The court made the observations while allowing a petition filed by P Muneeswari of Ramanathapuram district in 2016, seeking to overturn a 2013 order passed by the district collector revoking his community certificate. A doctor by profession, she was born to Pallan Hindu parents (a listed caste) and certified in accordance with the law. She then married a Christian and raised her children also as members of the Christian community.
Citing this, his certificate was revoked by the district authorities. When she challenged the decision in court, officials said they went to her clinic and found a Holy Cross hanging on the wall. Based on this, officials conjectured that she had converted to Christianity and therefore was not entitled to retain the Pallan Hindu community certificate.
Slamming the argument, the premier bench said, “There is no suggestion in the affidavit that she gave up her faith or embraced Christianity. It is also possible that she, as a member of a family, accompanies her husband and children for Sunday matins, but just because a person attends church does not mean that they have completely abandoned the original faith to which they were born. ”
The judges added: “The actions and conduct of the authorities demonstrate a degree of narrow-mindedness that the Constitution does not encourage. It would be good if the review committee members approached the issue with a broader mind than what is evident in the present case, they said.
Finding that the measures taken by the authorities appeared arbitrary and based on assumptions and conjectures without support of any material fact, the judges quashed the order issued by the district tax collector and ordered the authorities to return the certificate issued to originally in favor of Muneeswari with immediate effect.


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