The bench admitted the fresh plea with
the old demand, thouh at least two similar lawsuits are pending with
Over two and a half years ago on July 19,
2007, the chief justice's bench had asked the central government to
firm up within two months its view on according the Scheduled Caste
status to Dalit Christians.
The bench, then headed by Chief Justice
K.G. Balakrishnan and having Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice
Dalveer Bhandari on it, had also sought from then additional
solicitor general Gopal Subramanium, now the country's solicitor
general, "all information, data and details" within eight weeks to
help it arrive at a decision.
The bench in July 2007 had issued these
directions while hearing two lawsuits filed in 2004 by the Centre
for Public Interest Litigation and advocate D. David of Vellore in
The chief justice's bench this time
simply tagged the new petition for hearing with the old ones.
Like the earlier petitions, the new one
too has challenged the legality of para 3 of the Constitution
Scheduled Castes Order, 1950, which provides the 'untouchable
Hindus' the Schedulec Caste status for benefit of affirmative
actions like reservations.
But the earlier untouchables among Hindus
on conversion to Christianity or Islam lose the benefit of
reservation, the lawsuit rued.
The lawsuit contended that the order had
been amended earlier to include even the Dalit Sikhs and Buddhists
in the Scheduled Castes list.
Arguing for provision of similar
treatment to Dalit Christians as well, the lawsuit argued that the
state cannot deny affirmative action to citizens on the basis of
The lawsuit pointed out to the court that
the issue of according Scheduled Caste status had been examined by
the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities,
headed by the Supreme Court's former chief justice Rangnath Mishra.
in turn, had submitted his report to Prime Minister Maanmohan Singh
May 14, 2007, recommending that Dalit Christians could be accorded
Schedules Caste status.
The prime minister had referred the
matter for closer examination by the National Commission for the
The new petition, as the old ones,
mentioned all these old facts and made old arguments and eventually
got tagged with them, adding to the list of 53,000-odd cases piling
up in the apex court.