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The Madras High Court has recently held that caste of a person is determined on the basis of birth and it cannot be changed by virtue of marriage.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh, while adjudicating upon a petition filed by one K. Shanthi, through Advocate R. Karunanidhi, directed the District Collector to pay her the relief amount as per the Rule 12 (4) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Rules, 2016. Court held, “The real test is that one should have suffered disabilities socially, economically and educationally.”

This provision obligates an Executive Magistrate to make necessary administrative and other arrangements and provide relief in cash or in kind or both within seven days to the victims of atrocity, their family members and dependents according to the provided scale.

K. Shanthi was allegedly a victim of offenses punishable under Sections 294(b), 324 and 506 of IPC r/w Sec 3(1)(s) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 2014, the trial for which was still pending.

In the meantime, K.Shanthi sought compensation of a sum of Rs.1,50,000/- under Rule 12(4) of the Rules, 2016 but her representation was not considered by the Collector.

The Additional PP, S. Chandrasekaran had contended that the Petitioner was not entitled to the compensation sought for as the District Collector had found that even though she belonged to the Scheduled Community by birth, she now followed Christianity. He clarified that her husband had converted himself to Christianity and belonged to the Backward Class and therefore, the Petitioner would also come under the Backward Class Community.

Court however observed that merely because the Petitioner’s husband was a Christian, would not ipso facto mean that she too was a Christian. Court said,

“There is absolutely no material to show that the petitioner has also converted herself into a Christian. Even if the husband of the petitioner is following Christianity, that does not automatically make the petitioner a Christian and her original status, wherein, she belongs to the Scheduled Caste community, will continue.”

Accordingly, the Collector was directed to pay compensation worth Rs.1,50,000/- (75% total relief of Rs.2,00,000/-) to the Petitioner within six weeks.

— India Legal Bureau

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