Call for deletion of four castes from SC list gains momentum

HC directs National Commission to resolve issue in six months

 A growing demand for the deletion of certain castes from the list of Scheduled Castes (SC) has reached a decisive stage, after the High Court of Karnataka directed the National Commission for Scheduled Castes to resolve the issue in six months.

The four castes in question whose deletion has been sought from the list of SCs in the context of Karnataka are: the Banjara, the Bhovi, the Koracha and the Korama — and their various synonyms. The exclusion is sought on the grounds that these are not ‘untouchable castes’ and hence do not deserve the SC status.

The Gulbarga-based Karnataka Asprushya Samaj Mahasabha had made a representation to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes in October 2010 seeking to exclude the four castes from the list.

When the Commission failed to take action, the Mahasabha president Shankar Kodla moved the High Court seeking to declare the inclusion of the four castes in the SC list unconstitutional. He had also sought a direction to the State and National SC commission to consider the representation of the Mahasabha for deletion of the four castes.

The Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice A S Bopanna directed the National SC Commission to take necessary action within six months.

The High Court order was necessary as the Commission had no power to include or exclude any caste into or from the list. The action of the Commission will certainly have far-reaching consequences as the four Scheduled Castes are said to be strong, both numerically and politically.

Caste numbers

As per the 2001 census, Karnataka has a population of 5,28,50,562 and SCs number 85,63,930 — constituting 16.2 per cent of the total population. Banjaras account for 11.6 per cent and Bhovis form 11.2 per cent of the population. At the present time, 101 castes have been identified as Scheduled Castes.

The Mahasabha has argued that with the inclusion of ‘touchable’ castes in the SC list, the ‘untouchable’ SCs  — Holeya, Madiga, Mochi, and Dhora — have been deprived of benefits. It claimed that there had been no improvement in their social status even after six decades of independence.

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