Madurai: A recent decision by an Indian high court has resolved a decades-long issue which had been confiscating the rights of the Muslims who converted to Islam in the India state of Tamil Nadu years ago. India, facing minority rights’ issue at large, happens to be a country which has Hindus in majority living with the Muslims, being the largest minority of India. Besides the two biggest religions, there are Sikhs, Christians and few Jews in the country as well.
Self-proclaimed largest democracy in the world and so-called secular state, India, is still confronted with a lot of problems as far as the dissemination of rights to the minorities are concerned which shows its inability in holding equal rights for its citizens on the basis of their religions despite claiming to be a secular state constitutionally and practically.
However, the recent decision by an Indian high court has, up to some extent, trimmed down the problems of the Muslims who converted to Islam in the Hindu-dominated country.
The decision came when the Madurai bench of the Madras high court directed the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) to treat people who have converted to Islam in the Backward Classes (Muslims) category during appointments.
The order was passed on a PIL filed in the court alleging that converts to Islam were being treated as “other castes” thereby denying them the benefits of the reservation policy. The PIL was filed by M K Muzibur Rahman, Secretary of Umar Nagar Muslim Jamath at Kooriyur in Ramanathapuram district.
Muzibur Rahman had said in his petition that he was one among the dalits who converted to Islam three decades ago. He pointed out that the community certificates issued by the state government to their children did not specify any caste. Ultimately, the children were left out in the reservation process and could not enjoy any of the quotas for Scheduled Castes or for Backward Classes (Muslims) in educational institutions and employment avenues. The TNPSC was not recognizing the community certificate for reservation purpose since it simply says they are converts to Islam without specifying the caste, he added.
Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Counsel Ajmal Khan pointed out that the State government had already issued orders for classifying those who converted to Christianity either under the head of Most Backward Class or Backward Class. However, no such order had been passed in so far as converts to Islam were concerned. Khan also argued that the Kerala government considered dalits who converted to Islam as Backward Class – Muslims.
Hearing the arguments, division bench comprising justices K N Basha and K Ravichandra Baabu passed the interim order directing TNPSC to consider converts to Islam as Backward Classes –Muslims.