This note pleads: (1) Clause (3) of Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 must be deleted in order to abolish religious discrimination against Muslim and Christian Dalits, (2) All the groups of Muslims and Christians which traditionally share the professions which are carried on by Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist Scheduled Castes must be treated at par with their counterpart Hindu Schedule Castes. (3) No reservation should be extended to all the Muslims just as it should not be extended to all the Hindus. Reservation benefits must be restricted only to socially and educationally backward classes of Muslims and Christians. (4) No division of OBC quota of 27% should be done on religious basis. However mechanisms should be made to ensure that Muslim OBCs get proportionate benefits in OBC quota. (5) To ensure that Muslim OBCs get their due share, Bihar model can be adopted wherein Muslim OBCs are grouped with most backward Hindu groups. (6) To ensure social and educational development of OBCs , on the pattern of Special Component Plan for Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes, 27% of Plan Budget should be earmarked for OBCs which will benefit Muslim OBCs also.

The root cause of decline of Muslims in India after independence is their under-representation in the political institutions and bodies of governance such as Parliament, Assemblies, Govts. and Panchayats etc. To rectify this situation, following suggestions are made:-

1. Clause (3) of Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 makes it obligatory that a member of Schedule Castes as listed under Article 341 of Constitution must be a Hindu, a Sikh or a neo-Buddhist. This clause bars Muslim and Christian dalits from sharing the benefits of reservation policy both at the Central and the State levels. Specially, this clause results in making Muslim and Christian dalits ineligible for contesting on the seats reserved in Parliament and Assemblies for Schedule Castes. Out of 119 seats reserved in Parliament for Schedule Castes, 36 reserved seats have substantial or majority Muslim population. Similarly, about 200 reserved Assembly seats would have similar population share of Muslims in them. Thus, if clause (3) were deleted, Muslims can almost double their representation in Parliament from the present level of 28 MPs to 28+36=64 MPs. Their representation in Assemblies too can increase by additional 200 seats. Muslims constitute more than 15% of the total population in the country. In the Indian Parliament having about 550 seats, Muslims' share should not be less than 15% of 550 MP seats i.e. more than 80 seats.

This enhanced level of representation of Muslims in Parliament and Assemblies can be secured without any constitutional amendment. The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950 is an executive proclamation issued by President of India but approved by Parliament. Clause (3) of this Order can be deleted by a simple majority in Parliament.

Clause (3) of the above Order is plainly arbitrary, unconstitutional and unfair. This view has been taken by Rangnath Mishra Commission which was set up by Congress Government at the Centre. The demand for the deletion of clause (3) is based on the very sound principle of Indian Constitution that no citizen can be discriminated against on the basis of religion, race, caste and sex etc. This clause discriminates against Muslim and Christian dalits on the basis of their religion in as much as members of Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Schedule Castes obtain benefits of reservation in different fields but Muslim and Christian dalits carrying on the same traditional, caste occupations such as washer-men (Dhobi) Sweepers (Lal Begis) Nat etc. are denied these benefits just because they follow Islam or Christianity.

2. Steps should be taken to abolish clause (3) of this Order and to include all those groups of Dalit Muslims and Christians as Scheduled Castes whose traditional occupations correspond to those carried on by Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist Schedule Castes. To illustrate, Muslim butchers, weavers, sweepers, vegetable seller etc. must not be treated differently from the same groups of people in Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist communities. Rangnath Mishra Commission made this recommendation very clearly. If the Indian society desires that Muslim poor should participate equally in the development of the country the above religious discrimination must be ended up forthwith.

3. A few Muslims are demanding reservation for all the Muslims. Muslims should be well advised not to press for this demand and Indian society should be wise enough to reject their demand outright. Under Article 15(3) of the constitution, State can make special provisions for socially and educationally background classes of citizens for educational purposes. Under Article 16(4) backward classes of citizens who are inadequately represented in public employment can be given reservation. Under the Indian Constitution all the Hindus cannot be given reservation because not all the Hindus belong to socially and educationally backward classes of citizens. If all the Hindus, who are 82% of the Indian population, per se cannot get reservation, how can all the Muslims be given reservation while they are only 15% of the population. It will be untrue to claim that all the Muslims of the country are socially and educationally backward. Attempt should be made to pick out those sections of Muslims and Christians who are socially and educationally backward and only they should be brought under the reservation safety net. This proposition, besides being unassailable under the Constitution, is also a non-communal approach to mitigating the under-representation of Muslim poor in the structure of governance. Any effort to raise a communal demand will ultimately be misused by the communal forces against Muslims presently lying low. Both before and after the partition of the country, Indian Muslims were damaged due to communal strategies adopted by the leaders. Present and future generations of Muslim must reject any communal strategy for improving their lot in the country.

Pursuing a non-communal approach would be more beneficial to the Muslims for two reasons. Muslims are only about 15% in the country. If they want their voice to be heard they must build up bridges of amity and goodwill with Hindus and other communities to obtain support of atleast 51% of the population. Secondly, Prophet Mohammad observed that love of the country is part of the faith of Muslims. Thus, it is a religions duty of Muslims to have amicable relations with the countrymen of other religions also in order to be good practicing Muslims.

4. In some quarters, a suggestion has been made that out of 27% quota reserved for other backward classes (OBCs), about 1/3 of 27% i.e. 9% quota should be created for Muslims. This is also not a wise suggestion. This suggestion implies that all the Muslims should get benefits of reservation even if they do not belong to socially and educationally backward classes of the society. It has already been clarified in the beginning that like all Hindus all Muslims cannot claim and should not be given the benefits of reservation.

5. Sometimes it is suggested that about one third of 27% i.e. 9% quota may be reserved for Muslim OBCs. Rangnath Mishra Commission has recommended that out of 27% reservation for OBCs, 6% should be reserved for Muslim OBCs In the long run, this suggestion will also damage Muslim poor because this suggestion amounts to separating Muslim OBCs from Hindu OBCs on religious lines. It is agreed that Muslim OBCs so far have not been able to secure even 1/3rd out of 27% of jobs reserved for OBCs. But to achieve this objective, creating a divide among OBCs on the basis of their religion would be harmful both to the Muslim OBCs and to the OBCs in general. Muslim OBCs and Hindu OBCs combined can fight out the ill-effects of social downgrading inflicted by casteist groups more effectively by working together rather than working separately as Muslim OBCs and Hindu OBCs.

6. A better strategy to ensure Muslim OBCs get their due share would be to adopt Bihar model. In Bihar, OBCs have been divided into 2 groups : Backwards and Most Backwards. Most Backwards include Muslim OBCs also. Most Backwards get higher quota than Backwards. This is a non-communal approach which will be more beneficial to the Muslim OBCs.

7. To ensure social and economic development of members of Schedule Caste & Schedule Tribes Government of India earmarks about 21% of Plan Budget as Special Component Plan every year. This amount is utilized for construction of pakka roads, school buildings, power, hand pumps, drainage, centres of public health and scholarship etc. for the areas pre dominated by these communities. If a similar provision is made for OBCs by earmarking 27% Plan funds, it will benefit Muslim poor in a big way. Roughly speaking every year 2.5 lakh crores are budgeted as plan expenditure in the country. 27% of this amount (Rs. 67,500 crores) is a big amount. Even if one third of this amount reaches Muslim OBCs, every year about Rs. 22,500 crores would be available for improving their condition. One important aspect of this suggestion is that as this demand is based purely on social and educational backwardness of the OBCs, any effort to give it a communal colour is likely to fail. Even small segment of those persons who keep raising artificially the issue of appeasement of Muslims would not be able to come out against this demand because this demand is in favour of more than half of India’s population which is included in OBC category. In a democratic set up to oppose more than half the population would be like hitting oneself with one’s axe.

[The author is the convener of Muslim Dalit Reservation Movement (MDRM). He is based in Lucknow (UP) and can be reached at anisansariias@gmail.com or on phone number 91-522-2236192]


  1. I fully support the ideas and programmes as laid out in the documents. this takes care of muslims aspirations without affecting across the religions solidarity of dalits and OBCs. Though manifesto would be disproportionate word to characterise this small document but to me the document appears as a manifesto of the pasmanda movement in the making.A simple, lucid hindustani translation of the document may be brought out to propagate the note.


Posts a comment

© Indian Dalit Muslims' Voice
Back to top