Government only recognizes & verifies caste and religion which is provided by a person by self-declaration, mainly for the purposes of taking affirmative action; it does not seek to determine the caste or religion of any Indian citizen. It is of personal preference whether people want to disclose their caste or religion on any application form.
If any person wants a ‘No caste, No religion’ certificate, he/she can follow the example PIL submitted by G. Balakrishnan to the High Court of Madras wherein it is ruled that people who do not wish to reveal their caste or religion must not be forced or compelled to do so.
Sneha Parthibaraja, an advocate and resident of Tirupattur, Tamil Nadu, became the first Indian to obtain an official ‘No Caste, No Religion’ certificate on February 5, 2019. It took her nine years to obtain it. The Sub-collector & Tehsildar issued her the certificate.
She has been stating that she does not belong to any caste or any religion and when she had first applied for a certificate, the officials had rejected her application on ground that no such precedent had existed in the country that time.
Parthibaraja justified her plea for ‘No caste No religion’ certificate on the following two grounds:
- She had not availed any benefits that involved the caste certificate and;
- She also stated that she has the means to live without it.
The Tamil Nadu district authorities have issued ‘No caste & No religion’ certificate and it has not got challenged in any court of law yet, therefore others can also get the certificate in same manner by approaching the collector of their residence. If denied and a person still wants a certificate then an application for ‘No caste & No religion’ certificate can be made to the court on the basis of Sneha Parthibaraja’s precedent. And even if there is resistance then a person can always opt to not disclose his/her caste or religion, as no citizen can be forced to disclose their caste or religion.
If a proper legal recourse for obtaining the certificate ‘No caste & No religion’ gets well established then it will be a step in advancement of making India a casteless and a religion-less nation.
Written by Advocate Monika Thakkar
[B.A.LL.B.(Hons.); LL.M. (Business Laws)]
- “Tamil Nadu Woman Becomes First Indian To Get ‘No Caste, No Religion’ Certificate After 9-Year-Long Battle” by Raka Mukherjee, News18. Dated: February 16, 2019.
- “It’s official: Tirupattur woman gets ‘no caste, no religion’ certificate” by Serena Josephine M, The Hindu. Dated: February 14, 2019.February 14, 2019 February 14, 2019
February 14, 2019