Supreme Court: In a case where the election of the appellant was challenged on ground that he, being a Muslim, is not a member of Scheduled Caste, and hence was not qualified to contest the election from any constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes, the bench of Ranjan Gogoi and P.C. Pant, JJ said that the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court where the election of the appellant was set aside was erroneous.
The family members of the appellant though followed Islam but they belonged to ‘Doom’ community, a Scheduled Caste under Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, and hence he was issued a caste certificate by the competent authority, after he declared that he has embraced Sikhism. The Court said that the said facts did not interfere with the settled law that a person can change his religion and faith but not the caste, to which he belongs, as caste has linkage to birth.
Regarding the contention that the appellant did not change his name after conversion and also that the other family members did not convert to Sikhism, it was contended by the appellant that he was popular as a singer with the name – ‘Mohammad Sadique’ as such without changing his name, he accepted the Sikhism and followed all rites and traditions of Sikh Religion. The Court, accepting the said contention of the appellant, held that It is not essential for anyone to change one’s name after embracing a different faith. However, such change in name can be a corroborating fact regarding conversion or reconversion into a religion/faith in appropriate cases. Also it is not necessary in law that entire family of a person should convert or reconvert to the religion to which he has gone. [Mohammad Sadique v. Darbara Singh Guru, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 371, decided on 29.04.2016]