The Supreme Court of India today in Mohammad Sadique Vs. Darbara Singh Guru has reiterated that a person can change his religion and faith but not the caste, to which he belongs, as caste has linkage to birth.
A bench comprising of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Prafulla C. Pant observed 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.
While allowing the appeal and dismissing the Election Petition the Apex Court held that 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 has stated that he not only followed Sikh traditions, he never offered Namaz, nor observed Roza nor went to Haj.
It is also relevant to mention here that Darbara Singh Guru (Election Petitioner) in his cross-examination admits that he did not raise any objection at the time when nomination papers were filed by the appellant.
The High Court has erred in law, by ignoring the above facts on the record, and giving importance to form of declaration, and the interview said to have been given by appellant to Gulzar Singh Shaunki, author of book – “Sada Bahar Gayak – Mohammad Sadique : Jeevan Te Geet”.
Statement of the appellant regarding conversion to Sikhism, is fully corroborated by Darshan Singh, Ex-Sarpanch of village Kupkalan, Rachhpal Singh, Secretary of Gurudwara Sahib Kupkalan, Ms. Sukhjeet Kaur, co-singer in Gurudwara, and Sant Shamsher Singh Jageda, who presented ‘Saropa’ to the appellant.
In the case at hand, admittedly the appellant was born to muslim parents. However, he has proved that his family members though followed Islam but they belonged to “Doom” community.
It is proved on the record that the appellant was issued a caste certificate as he was found to be member of ‘Doom’ community by the competent authority, after he declared that he has embraced Sikhism, and he was accepted by the Sikh community.
It is not disputed that ‘Doom’ in Punjab is a Scheduled Caste under Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950.
The Scheduled Caste Certificate was issued to the appellant by the competent authority, and accepted by the returning officer. Said certificate appears to have not been cancelled.
What is shown on behalf of the respondent is that vide communication dated 17.11.2008 (Ext. PJ) State authorities informed and clarified to the Deputy Commissioner that members following Islam are not entitled to the certificate of Scheduled Caste, and if issued, certificates may be cancelled.
But the certificate (PG/2) dated 25.08.2006 already issued in favour of appellant, is not cancelled, which he obtained after his conversion to Sikhism.
It is proved on the record that the appellant embraced Sikh religion on 13.04.2006, and got published the declaration on 04.01.2007 in the newspapers Hindustan Times (English) Exh.RA, and Ajit (Punjabi) Exh RB.
Nomination for election in question was filed by him five years thereafter.
The appellant has further sufficiently explained that since 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.