Supreme court: No compulsion to disclose caste in schools

18Sep07

The Supreme Court on Monday observed that no school in the country can compel a child to disclose his caste at the time of admission. A bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan made the observation, saying the disclosure of one’s caste could only be optional and not mandatory. The bench dismissed a plea by an 81-year-old Gandhian from Tamil Nadu, Salemvelu Gandhi alias Velu, while yet terming the petition as having “laudable objectives”.

The Gandhian had sought the court’s direction to schools against seeking information about a child’s caste at the time of admission, and pleaded this perpetuated casteism in the society.The court said it was constrained to dismiss the petition owing to the practical difficulties in issuing the directions as several castes, including the Schedule Castes and Tribes and the Other Backward Classes, depend on the caste certificate issued by schools to avail the benefits of various affirmative actions of the state.

The bench said it cannot pass any direction on the issue as it would create problems for those who want to avail free scholarships and other benefits.



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