CHENNAI: The Madras high court has ordered the Tamil Nadu government to instruct its officials to issue backward class (BC) community certificates to people who embrace Islam, categorically saying that a BC member would get all the benefits meant for BCs even after conversion to Islam.
"I have no hesitation to come to the conclusion that a person belonging to Hindu backward class community, on conversion to Islam, would get the benefit of backward class status if the person is covered under List III of the government order no. 85," said Justice D Hariparanthaman on Wednesday. The list contains seven sects of 'backward class' Muslims. They are: Ansar, Dekkani Muslims, Dudekula, Labbais (including Rawthar and Marakayar speaking Tamil or Urdu), Mapilla, Sheik and Syed, the judge pointed out.
In his 88-page order tracing the origin of caste-resistance movements by various communities and the prevalence of two-tumbler system in several parts of the state, Justice Hariparanthaman trashed two government communications sent in February 2010 and August 2012 asking collectors not to issue BC certificates to converted Muslims. Describing it as persecution of Muslim brothers and akin to 'untouchability' practised on dalits, the judge said, "Denial of BC community certificate to converted Muslims amounts to deprivation of fundamental rights."
The judge was passing orders on a petition filed by M U Aariffaa, who was a Nadar (a BC community) before her conversion to Islam in 2006. Though she cleared the TNPSC examination for village administrative officer (VAO) in 2012, she was not selected as she was treated as 'others'. Later in the same year, she was not appointed station officer in fire service department citing the same reason. On both occasions she moved the high court and obtained an order directing the respective departments to keep one post vacant.
Justice Hariparanthaman said: "Counsel for the TNPSC does not dispute the genuineness of the conversion of Aariffaa to Labbai Muslim. According to her, 'converted' Labbai Muslim is not on List III which covered only 'born Labbai Muslim'. This is, in fact, doing violence to the List. The only thing that has to be seen is whether the candidate has genuinely converted to any one of the sects in List III. If it is so, there ends the matter."
While accepting amicus curiae M Ajmalkhan's stance that there is no such a thing as 'converted' Muslim, Justice Hariparanthaman disagreed with his claim that unlike in the case of Christianity, a convert's original caste status is erased on embracing Islam.
The judge also flayed the Tamil Nadu Backward Class Commission for its stand that no convert to Islam is entitled to get BC community certificate and that all such existing certificates are bogus. "The view expressed by the commission has no basis and it has to be rejected, as it would result in the denial of community certificates to all converts to Islam," Justice Hariparanthaman said.
Directing the government to appoint Aariffaa to either of the posts she had qualified immediately, the judge said she should be placed at the appropriate place in the seniority list meant for BC Muslims.
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