The Madras high court has directed the state government to circulate the Government Order permitting those who do not wish to declare their religion or caste in columns such as Religion and Caste while seeking admission to educational institutions. The court ordered that wide publicity be given to the provision so that people are not compelled to mention their religion or caste if they do not wish to do so. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R.Mahadevan gave the directive while disposing of a PIL from G.Balakrishnan, a social activist, which sought to direct the authorities to permit parents to fill up the columns such as Religion and Caste as “No Religion” and “No Caste” while seeking admission.
The bench said with the avowed object of having a casteless society, the state government issued an order dated July 31, 2000. Advocate Sathia Chandran, counsel for the petitioner submitted that the government order was observed in the breach and needs to be re-emphasised. The court went on to say, “In so far as the Transfer Certificate is concerned, we cannot issue a mandatory direction that caste shall not be disclosed because some people may want to do so. However, if any person does not want the caste to be disclosed, we feel there is no need to mandatorily to do so, keeping in mind the aforesaid government order”.
According to petitioner, he has been witnessing the caste system in our country with the effect of caste on the ethics of the people was simply deplorable. There was no sympathy to the deserving and appreciation of the meritorious. The state government being a pioneer to address the issues of social justice, way back in 1973 issued an order whereby the Director of School Education was instructed to confer right upon those who do not wish to declare their religion or caste in the school certificates or transfer certificates shall be permitted to do so. However, this progressive measure was not publicised duly.
The basis for issuing the GO was only to encourage persons who marry inter-religion/inter-caste to transform the society into a casteless one. In the wake of a new generation of progressive-minded people, the issue again caught the attention of the authorities and in such a situation, a GO dated July 31, 2000 was issued referring the 1973 GO and reiterating the said position. Even this GO was not known to many. Educational institutions, both government and private, compel the students to fill in the columns regarding religion and caste, he added and sought a direction to implement the 2000 G.O.