High Court Rules Muslims Not Entitled to Scheduled Caste Status
A recent ruling by the Punjab and Haryana high court confirms that Muslims are not entitled to Scheduled Caste Status or the benefits that come with the status.
The case unravelling the matter involved Congress MLA Mohammad Sadiq, who was elected from Bhadaur (Sangrur) which is a seat reserved for Scheduled Castes.
Sadiq won the seat in the 2012 poll, trumping his rivals by 7,000 votes by challenging from the Bhadaur section. However, his rival, Darbara Singh Guru, disputed the victory by stating that Muslims were not allowed to claim the quota benefit on reserved seat.
Under the constitution, Scheduled Castes are considered to be those practicing Buddhism, Sikhism or Hinduism. Sadiq argues that his conversion from Islam to Sikhism in 2006 permits him to contest for the election from Bhadaur (Sangrur), however, the change in faith couldn’t be proved in the courtroom. In his defense, Sadiq stated that his mother was a Muslim, but he had never proclaimed to follow suit and had always followed Sikhism and therefore was a Scheduled Caste. At present the ruling stands, however Sadiq is within his rights to challenge the high court decision through a Supreme Court hearing.
With the unseating of Sadiq, the Punjab Congress now faces the dilemma of falling numbers in its parliament party. There are 117 seats within parliament house, with the Punjab Congress now having 42 of those seats after the recent unseating. The majority of the seats, 58, belong to the ruling party Shiromani Akali Dal, with smaller portions split between the Bharatiya Janata Party (12) and the smaller independents (3).