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Delhi High Court seeks response from Centre, Delhi govt over use of humiliating term in caste certificates

The Akhil Bhartiya Gihara Samaj Jagrati Parishad filed the petition, contending that the community is known as Gihara, a recognised scheduled caste under the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) [(Union Territories)] Order, 1951; and thereby, the caste certificate issued should mention the caste as Gihara, in place of the alleged term.

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The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response from the Centre and the Delhi Government on a petition alleging use of a derogatory and humiliating term in caste certificates issued to people belonging to the ‘Gihara’ community.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued a notice on the plea, seeking mention of the said derogatory word in caste certificates issued to people from the Gihara community, and fixed the matter for further hearing on August 31.

The petition was filed by the Akhil Bhartiya Gihara Samaj Jagrati Parishad President Sudhir Kumar Gihara through Advocates Prag Chawla and Sudeep Sudan.

The plea averred that the community is known as Gihara, a recognised scheduled caste under the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) [(Union Territories)] Order, 1951; and thereby, the caste certificate issued should mention the caste as Gihara, in place of the alleged term.

“The Respondents (Union of India and Government of NCT of Delhi), who are under an obligation to protect the dignity of people of Scheduled Caste community, cannot use a word, which is derogatory and abusive, in their Caste Certificate,” noted the petition.

The plea contended that it is an obligation of the Government to look after the effective implementation of the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, and not to ignore or violate its provisions by using derogatory expressions in the certificates issued to the members of such community.

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The plea further said that vide Cabinet decision dated July 25, the Delhi Government had observed that while issuing caste certificates, caste names, which have a derogatory connotation, shall be removed and inter-alia, a decision to remove the said word was taken. Several representations have been made by the petitioner society before the concerned authorities, seeking removal of the derogatory term, but no action has yet been taken on the representation. 

Relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in ‘Swarah Singh & Others vs State through Standing Counsel and Another’ (2008), the plea stated that the alleged word is derogatory and humiliates the existence of being a human and is against the principle of equality and respect enshrined in the Constitution.

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