Conversion of religion will not change caste: Madras high court

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Conversion from one religion to another will not change the caste of a person which he or she belongs to, the Madras high court said on Thursday while denying an ‘inter-caste’ marriage certificate to a Christian adi dravidar and Hindu arunthathiyar couple.

The petitioner belongs to the adi dravidar community. Change in classification of communities (from SC to BC) would not change the caste, Justice S M Subramaniam said.

As per a government order (GO) dated December 28, 1976, inter-caste marriage couples would get various benefits including priority in public employment.

“In the event of a converted person claiming an inter-caste marriage certificate, it would pave the way for the citizen to abuse the benefit to be granted under the inter-caste marriage quota,” the court said.
The repercussions will be large and, therefore, the inter-caste marriage certificate has to be issued only if any one of the spouses belongs to the Scheduled Caste and the other spouse belongs to another caste, but not otherwise, the judge clarified.

The court passed the order while dismissing a plea moved by S Paul Raj, who was born in the adi dravidar community, a scheduled caste community, and later converted to Christianity. In view of his conversion, he was issued a backward community certificate.
In 2009, he married G Amutha belonging to the Arunthathiyar community which falls under Scheduled Caste. Therefore, relying on the 1976 GO he applied for an inter-caste marriage certificate.
However, the application was rejected on the ground that conversion of religion would not entail a person to get an inter-caste marriage certificate.

Aggrieved, the petitioner moved the present plea challenging the rejection.

Rejecting the plea, the court concurred with the findings of the authority and dismissed the petition.

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