High Court orders reinstatement of Community certificate

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The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court ordered the Ramanathapuram district authorities to immediately reinstate the community certificate originally issued to a Pallan Hindu woman married to a Christian.

The court said the cancellation of the community certificate showed “… a degree of narrow-mindedness that the Constitution does not encourage.” Nothing can be presumed about a member of a particular community concerning another community or another religion; indeed, it is the constitutional mandate and not otherwise, observed a division bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice M. Duraiswamy.

The certificate was canceled simply because the woman, a doctor, had married a Christian and their children were recognized as members of her husband’s community.

The judges observed that there was no doubt that the applicant belonged to the Pallan Hindu community and that it was not disputed that she was born of Hindu Pallan parents.

In the counter-affidavit, the authorities said they went to the applicant’s clinic and found a “cross” hanging on the wall. Officials assumed she had converted to Christianity, which resulted in the certificate being canceled. The judges observed that the specious apologies offered by the officials could not be accepted. There was no suggestion in the affidavit that the applicant had given up her faith or that she had embraced Christianity.

It is also possible that the petitioner, being part of a family, accompanies her husband and children to Sunday matins. But just because a person goes to church does not mean that they have given up on the original faith.

Taking into account that the action appeared arbitrary and based on assumptions and conjectures without any material fact, the court overturned the order made by the collector of Ramanathapuram in 2013.

The review panel would do well to approach the matter with a broader mind than was evident in the present case, the judges observed. The court granted the woman’s petition in 2016.


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