The Supreme Court Monday gave six weeks’ time to the central government to file its reply on a suit filed by the Akhil Maharashtra Muslim Khatik Samaj seeking inclusion in the list of other scheduled castes.
The petition said that socially Muslim Dalits like khatiks, mehtars, bhangi, lal-begi, halakkhor, mochi, mukri and garudi were similarly placed as their Hindu counterparts therefore they should be included in the category of other scheduled castes.
An apex court bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice B.S. Chauhan gave six weeks’ time to the government after Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told the court that a petition by similarly placed Dalit Christians was pending before the court.
He said that the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities under the chairmanship of Justice Ranganath Mishra has recommended the delinking of religion from the issue of scheduled caste status.
The solicitor general said that they need time for getting response from the states.
The petitioner said that denial of scheduled caste status to Dalit Muslims on the grounds of religion was discriminatory and against the spirit of the constitution.
The Hindu Khatiks in Maharashtra have been declared as scheduled castes but the Muslim Khatiks doing the same job of slaughtering have been denied the same status, which was arbitrary and without any legal and constitutional foundation, the petitioner said.
The classification of Dalits into Hindu Dalits, Muslim Dalits, Christian Dalits, Sikh Dalits and Buddhist Dalits was a recent phenomenon. Previously under the Act of 1935 they were referred to as ‘depressed classes’, the petitioner said.