A person can change his religion and faith but not the caste to which he belongs, as caste has linkage to birth: SC

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The High Court had held that the conversion from one religion to another would dis entitle the person to carry his caste with him after conversion. In that context, the Apex Court has made reference to the dictum laid in Kailash Sonkar v. Maya Devi, wherein a lady born of Christian parents, after she reconverted to Hinduism and welcomed by the caste leaders, the court had held that it fulfills the conditions required for being reconverted to Hinduism from Christianity in order to revive the original caste . The Court also referred to K.P. Manu v. Scrunity Committee for Verification of Community Certificate wherein the Court had held that A person can be given SC/ST status even after his re-converson if there is evidence establishing the acceptance by the community. The judgment in S. Anbalagan v. B. Devarajan was also referred to. The observation by the Constitution Bench in Guntur Medical College v. Y. Mohan Rao to the effect that It is not necessary that one should have been born a Hindu or a Sikh to deem him as a member of scheduled caste.

The Court has made following observation on the facts of this case “Admittedly the appellant was born to muslim parents”. However, he has proved that his family members though followed Islam but they belonged to “Doom” community. It is settled law that a person can change his religion and faith but not the caste, to which he belongs, as caste has linkage to birth. It is proved on the record that the appellant was issued a caste certificate as he was found to be member of ‘Doom’ community by the competent authority, after he declared that he has embraced Sikhism, and he was accepted by the Sikh community.

To the argument that his family is professing Islam and he still keeps a “Muslim” name, the Court said “It is not essential for anyone to change one’s name after embracing a different faith. However, such change in name of can be a corroborating fact regarding conversion or reconversion into a religion/faith in appropriate cases. Also it is not necessary in law that entire family of a person should convert or reconvert to the religion to which he has gone.”

By – Tania Ratnam

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