Two top Muslim organisations -- All India Milli Council and Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind (Mahmood Madni) -- on Tuesday backed National Commission for Minorities chairman Wajahat Habibullah's call for scheduled caste status to Muslim and Christian Dalits.
Supporting Wajahat, a retired J&K cadre IAS officer and India's first Chief Information Commissioner, Milli Council secretary general Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam said the constitutional order of 1950 was in clear conflict with the secular democratic nature of the Constitution.
"Restricting scheduled caste status to the Dalits following Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions is an anachronism and needs to be removed from the constitutional frame work," he said.
When the tribals converting to Christianity do not lose their scheduled tribe status, why should Dalits be deprived of SC status because of their conversion to Christianity or Islam, Dr Alam asked.
Echoing the same sentiments, Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind General Secretary Maulana Mahmood Madani said that depriving very backward Muslims and Christians of the benefits of reservation based on their religion was a violation of the Constitution.
"There are many backward classes in the Muslim community who are in the same condition as those of non-Muslim Dalits, and therefore denial of benefit to one particular community is against the spirit of the Constitution and it must be done away with," Madani said, urging NCM to take up the issue in a concerted manner.
It is relevant that a number of PIL (Public Interest Litigation) petitions are pending before the Supreme Court challenging Para 3 of the Constitution (scheduled caste) order of 1950, which says that no person, who professes a religion different from Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist religion, shall be deemed to be a member of the scheduled caste.
Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Justice Rangnath Misra headed Commission had also strongly recommended amendment of Article 341 of the Constitution for providing reservation to Muslim and Christian Dalits.