Like the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) case against Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan collapsed Friday, May 27, the leaders of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in power in Maharashtra rallied behind former CPN minister Nawab Malikwho in October last year fought a literally lonely battle against Sameer Wankhede, the chief investigator of the case.
Among the allegations that Malik, who is now in prison after being arrested by the Directorate of Law Enforcement in a separate case earlier this year, made against Wankhede was that the officer had benefited illegally government’s affirmative action policy for Dalits.
Malik’s allegation was that Wankhede had been raised as a Muslim and was therefore not eligible for the 15% Scheduled Caste (SC) reservation in government jobs. Wankhede’s family had denied the allegation.
What did Nawab Malik accuse Sameer Wankhede of doing?
According to Malik, Dnyandev Kachru Wankhede, Sameer Wankhede’s father, was an SC who converted to Islam before marrying Sameer’s mother, Zaheeda Begum.
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Sameer was born in 1979. Malik released his birth certificate which records his father’s name as Dawood K Wankhede.
Malik claimed that Sameer was raised as a Muslim and was a Muslim at the time of his marriage in 2006. Malik last year published what he claimed was Sameer’s nikahnama – the document on which two Muslim partners entering a civil union must sign to legalize their marriage.
The document was dated December 7, 2006 and listed Wankhede’s name as Sameer Dawood Wankhede.
So where does the question of his quota usage come from?
Malik alleged that Sameer, a Muslim, had been selected for the Civil Service Examination (CSE) under the SC quota, to which he was not eligible.
The list of officers on the website of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which awards services to those who clear the CSE, shows that Wankhede was ranked 561st in the 2007 CSE.
He was selected as a candidate in the SC category and became an Indian Revenue Service Class of 2008 Officer (Customs and Excise).
How does the fact that he may have been a Muslim affect his eligibility to book?
There is a 15 percent quota for SCs in government jobs. But Hindu SCs who convert to Islam lose their SC status and are no longer eligible for the quota.
A brochure on the DoPT website gives an update on SC status and conversions:
“A person is considered a member of a scheduled caste or tribe if he or she belongs to a caste or tribe that has been declared as such…
“No person who professes a religion other than the Hindu or Sikh religion shall be considered a member of the Scheduled Castes…” (On STs, see below.)
Further, “A person belonging to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe will continue to be considered as such regardless of marriage to an Unscheduled Caste or Tribe. »
However, “A convert or reconvert to Hinduism and Sikhism will be accepted as a member of the Scheduled Caste if he has been received and accepted as a member of the relevant Scheduled Caste.”
The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Ordinance 1950, which states that no person professing a religion other than Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist may be considered a member of an SC, has been amended several times.
The original order under which only Hindus were classified as SC was amended to include Sikhs in 1956 and Buddhists in 1990.
However, no religion-based bar works for STs and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The brochure on the DoPT website says, “The rights of a person from a Scheduled Tribe are independent of their religious faith.
But if Hindus and Sikhs are eligible for SC quota benefits, is the exclusion of Muslims and Christians discriminatory?
Petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court asking for the inclusion of Muslims and Christians in the SC category.
In 2004, the Center for Public Interest Litigation challenged the legality of the provision whereby persons professing and converting to religions other than Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism were deprived of the benefits of the reservation.
In 2008, the National Commission on Minorities concluded that Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims should be included in the SC category.
In January 2020, the SC agreed to consider a plea by the National Council of Dalit Christians for government affirmative action programs to be religiously neutral. The plea is pending in court.
In inter-caste marriages, can the caste of the mother be the caste of the couple’s child?
The child carries the caste of the father and caste certificates are issued based on this. However, the courts have taken note of the environment in which the child was raised.
In ‘Rameshbhai Dabhai Naika vs State of Gujarat & Ors’ (2012), the Supreme Court ruled: “In an inter-caste marriage or a marriage between a tribal and a non-tribal, there may be a presumption that the child at the caste of the father. This presumption may be stronger where, in an inter-caste marriage or a marriage between a tribal and a non-tribal, the husband belongs to an advanced caste. But in no case is the presumption conclusive or irrefutable and it is open to the child of such a marriage to produce evidence to show that he was brought up by the mother who belonged to the Scheduled Caste/Tribe.
In 2006, Meira Kumar, then Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, proposed that children born of intercaste marriages should be granted SC status if one of the parents is from a scheduled caste. A proposal to this effect was to be presented to Cabinet in April 2008, but was withdrawn at the last minute. There was resistance to the suggestion from many quarters, including the National Scheduled Caste Commission (NCSC).
Coming back to Wankhede, what can happen if a caste certificate turns out to be fake?
A DoPT circular dated May 19, 1993 says: “Whenever it is found that a public servant, who was not qualified or eligible under the rules of recruitment etc… or had provided false information or produced a false certificate in order to get an appointment, he must not be kept in service…
“If he has become a permanent civil servant…if the charges are proven, the civil servant must be removed from office or discharged from office.”
Sameer Wankhede may be investigated and may even be fired if his SC certificate turns out to be fake. However, clarification is needed on several issues, for example:
* if his father was Muslim when Sameer received his SC certificate;
* whether his father converted to Islam to get married, then converted — and if so, when;
* if Sameer changed his religion to Hinduism just to receive an SC certificate.