New Delhi (CBCI News): The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) plan to observe August 10 as Black Day to protest against the discrimination meted out to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims by not granting them Scheduled Caste benefits as a blatant act of religious discrimination and in contravention of the Constitutional provision of equality.
The community has renewed its demand to the government of India to come forward to resolve the issue immediately without further delay and that it should give appropriate answer to the query of the Supreme Court based on the recommendation of Justice Ranganath Misra Commission’s report.
Explaining the issue further Fr. Z. Devasagayaraj, Secretary, SC/BC of CBCI stated: The Constitution (Scheduled Caste) order 1950 was signed on 10th August 1950 by the then President of India which says that “No person who professes a religion other than Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the Scheduled Caste” which was later amended to include Sikhs (1956) and Buddhists (1990) in the Scheduled Caste net. This order is against the Secular nature (Preamble of the Constitution) of the country, against Article 14(Equality before the law), article 15(prohibition of discrimination of any citizen on ground of only religion), Article 25 (Freedom of Conscience and free to profess any religion), Article 26 (equality before the law and equal protection of the law) and against the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party.
The Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims observe August 10th as Black Day throughout India. Civil Writ petition 180/2004 in the Honorable Supreme Court of India praying the deletion of paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Caste) order 1950 is still pending in the Supreme Court of India for the past ten years since the Government is not replying to the Supreme Court. Last year CBCI represented by SC/BC office and NCCI have impleaded in the above mentioned case. The Constitutional rights for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims are denied based on religion for more than 64 years.
Different commissions appointed by the Government have clearly recommended that Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims should be included in the Scheduled Caste list. The National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM) popularly known as Justice Ranganath Misra Commission’s Report says the following
“Constitution Scheduled Caste Order 1950 para 3 is unconstitutional and it is a black letter written outside the Constitution introduced through the back door by an executive order”. "We recommend that Para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) order 1950, which originally restricted the scheduled caste net to the Hindus and later opened it to Sikhs and Buddhists, thus still excluding from its purview the Muslims, Christians, Jains and Parsis etc – should be wholly deleted by appropriate action so as to completely de-link the scheduled caste status from religion and make the scheduled castes net fully religion – neutral like that of the Scheduled Tribes”.
The national Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has recommended that Scheduled Caste status must be extended to the Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin. The National Commission for Minorities too has given its consent. Till now twelve State Governments and Union Territories have recommended to Union of India for granting SC status to these people. The Bihar State Assembly, Uttar Pradesh State Assembly and Andhra Pradesh state Assembly have passed resolution for granting SC status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the years 2000, 2006 and 2009 respectively.
Most of the National and Regional political parties have supported the demand of Scheduled Caste status to Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin by writing letters to the Prime Minister and concerned authorities. We are sorry that the rights of the minority communities of Scheduled caste origin is denied and delayed for many years. Our peaceful and democratic demonstrations will continue till our rights are attained.
Churches of all the denominations in India plans to observe August 10th as Black Day. On August 10th Special Mass and prayers will be offered. Meetings, rallies, demonstrations, hunger fasts, submitting memoranda, candle vigils and other forms of demonstrations will be also organized by the Christian communities to show support and solidarity to the suffering Christians of Scheduled Caste Origin.
In Delhi the Black Day will be observed on 12th August 2014 from 4.30 to 5.30 pm at CNI Bhawan, 16, Pandit Pant Marg, New Delhi by CBCI, NCCI and NCDC. Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, Archbishop Vincent Concessao, Emeritus of Delhi and Mr. Alwan Masih, CNI General Secretary will preside over the program.