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Monday, November 28, 2022

LRPF challenges Andhra government order diverting SC benefits to Christian converts

LRPF has challenged the Andhra (AP) government order (GO MS 341) dated 30th August 1977 that extends SC (Scheduled Caste) reservation benefits to Christian converts in violation of the constitutional provisions of 1950. The complaint has been addressed to the President, Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, and Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC).

LRPF (Legal Rights Protection Forum), an NGO fighting for the legal rights of indigenous people, has highlighted that the GO which has been in implementation for the last 43 years violates the special rights given to scheduled castes under the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 and the Bharatiya constitution by dividing SC benefits into statutory and non-statutory in an arbitary manner.

The complaint further alleges that only admission to educational institutions and government/public sector jobs were categorized as statutory benefits available to SCs and all others were placed under non-statutory benefits and were accorded to Chrisitan converts out of SC communities. It highlights that the extension of SC benefit to Christians is arbitrary and in contravention of Presidential Order 1950 and the Constitution of India.

LRPF says “Ever since, the above referred G.O was issued, over the period of last 43 years, almost all the benefits like allotment of Land/House, Free Electricity, Loans which are intended to benefit SCs have been extended to Christian converts. With an estimated 80% conversion from SC into Christianity in the state of Andhra Pradesh, it is quite clear that lion’s share of SC benefits is being enjoyed by Christian converts with the help of above referred G.O.”

The Andhra Pradesh government has no right and jurisdiction to alter the 1950 Presidential Order that reads:

“Only those who profess Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religion will be considered as Hindu. The moment an existing SC person stops practising and professing the above religions, he ceases to be a SC and no benefit meant for SCs can be extended to him or her.”

Bringing to light the injustice meted out to the people belonging to SC communities over the last four decades, LRPF has pointed out that implementation of the said Government Order since 1977 and the gradual expansion of its scope has snatched away a big chunk of funds meant for the people of original Scheduled Caste Communities provided both by Central and State Governments.

Furthermore, since the aforementioned GO was issued in the Undivided State of Andhra Pradesh, it is also being implemented in the state of Telangana. Except Andhra Pradesh and Telangana States, no other state in this country is implementing/have introduced such an order. The complaint also points out how Chrisitan converts from SC communities are receiving dual benefits as they are eligible for reservations under Backward Classes – C (SC converts to Christianity) created as part of OBC reservations.

Thus, the following benefits accrue to person of the SC community who has converted to Christianity:

1.      SC benefits as per the 1977 G.O. of Government of AP

2.      Benefits under BC-C (SC Converts to Christianity) under OBC quota

3.      Various schemes of AP Christian Minority Finance Corporation

4.      Various schemes of AP State SC Finance Corporation.

These benefits have acted as incentive for people of the SC community to convert to Christianity and amounts to government sanction for conversion. It is not the business of the government to proselytize which is what is happening in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana where government funds are being misused. The extent of diversion of funds which are meant for development of Scheduled Caste to Christian converts can be gauged from the fact that in the state of Andhra Pradesh, for the year 2019-20 the funds allocated under Scheduled Caste Component are of the order of Rs. 15,000 Crores.

Government records over the last four decades under successive governments state that GO MS no 341 has been meticulously implemented. LRPF has urged the authorities to re-examine the legal validity of the said government order and requested them to take corrective measures to protect the rights of the SC community keeping in mind the gross injustice being meted out to those who do not convert out of their indigenous faith.

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