Tribal Status Shall Continue Even After Conversion To Christianity: Chhattisgarh HC [Read Judgment] BY: ASHOK KINI 1 Feb 2019 5:33 PM
“It can be presumed that even if the respondent adopted the Christianity, his right of status of Kanwar Tribe cannot be taken away.” The Chhattisgarh High Court observed that the Tribal status will continue even if the tribe converted to Christianity, the said Tribal status shall continue. Justice Goutam Bhaduri observed thus, while dismissing an election petition against Amit Ajit Jogi, filed by Sameera Paikara. In the election held in 2013, Indian National Congress’ candidate Amit Ajit Jogi was declared elected and Sameera Paikara was the BJP Candidate against him.
One of the allegations against Jogi was that he was not Kanwar and was Christian, and thus he was not entitled to contest the seat reserved for the Scheduled Tribe. Answering this issue, the court observed that that Kanwar community of village participated in the functions of Nawakhai, Puja etc., conducted by Jogi family and therefore what would be the effect if the person is accepted as a Kanwar though he is a Christian. The court said that though his family adopted Christianity, but they still continue observance of tribe religion.
The court observed: “In exercise of power conferred by Clause (1) of Article 341 of the Constitution of India, the President after consultation with Governor and Rajpramukhs of the State concerned has issued the Order which is called as “The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950. Another Order called as “The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950″ was also issued by the President before issuance of the said S.T. Order. Clause (3) of Scheduled Castes Order 1950 speaks that Notwithstanding anything contained in Paragraph 2, no person who professes a religion different from the Hindu, the Sikh or the Buddhist religion shall be deemed to be member of a Scheduled Caste. The said restriction is absent in the S.T. Order which may be called as Constitution (Scheduled 33 Tribes) order, 1950. Therefore, necessary inference is that if the tribe converted to Christianity, the said Tribal status shall continue.”
The court then rejected the contention raised in the petition that adopting Christianity has made him lost his status of Kawar Tribe. “It can be presumed that even if the respondent adopted the Christianity, his right of status of Kanwar Tribe cannot be taken away.” the court said.
Another issue framed was regarding ‘dual nationality’ of Amit Jogi. It was contended that as Jogi was born at Dallas Texas (USA) and was American citizen by birth but had filed his nomination as an Indian citizen, therefore, no dual citizenship is permitted; he could not have contested the election. The court noted a Supreme Court decision in Kedar Pandey vs. Narain Bikram Sah, which had held that the person who is dependent on his parents comes back and settles herein India then it would be considered that he has obtained the domicile by choice.
The court said: “Merely because of birth of Amit Jogi at U.S.A., he could not have been stopped to contest the election when he has chosen the “domicile of choice” by accepting the citizenship, settling and expressed his mind to settle and continue in India.” The court finally dismissed the election petition.
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