The Hindu Report On Jains Being Included In Scheduled Castes Category

Posted: 26.11.2008
Updated on: 02.12.2010

Press Council of India,
Soochna Bhavan, 8-C.G.O. Complex,
Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003
Email : pcids@vsnl.net, pcibpp@gmail.com
File No.14/425/07-08-PCI
Dated: 27.10.2008

Press Council of India Decision in Bal Patil' & Justice Panachand Jain’s complaint Re: The Hindu Report on Jains included in Scheduled Castes

Shri Bal Patil,
General Secretary,
All India Jain Minority Forum (New Delhi),
Mumbai

Vs.

 

The Editor,
The Hindu,
Kochi City,
Kerala




Complaint

This complaint dated 4.1.2008 has been filed by Shri Bal Patil, General Secretary, All India Jain Minority Forum (New Delhi), Mumbai against the Hindu, Chennai for publication of an objectionable news item in its issue dated 5.11.2007. The complainant has objected to the statement made in the impugned news item, which reads:

"The Central Government's reported move to give Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims will deprive current SCs (among the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists) of their job and education quotas, according to Vijay Sonkar, President of All India Scheduled Caste Reservation Protection Forum."

The complainant has submitted that since as per the Constitution provisions, the Jains are not included in the Scheduled Caste, he wrote to the respondent pointing out the report as misconceived and unwarranted, and demanded clarification. The respondent editor in his reply, furnished the clarification of the Special Correspondent from Kochi which reproduced below:

'I spoke to Dr. Vijay Sonkar Sastri and he says that he sticks to what he said at the meet.
'He has pointed out that SCs among Jains are constitutionally entitled to SC reservation. May be the organization that took objection to the reference is not fully aware of the facts, he says.

'I also spoke to Mr. K.V. Madanan, Working President of the All India SC Reservation Protection Forum, He has quoted Explanation 2 of Article 25 which says that " In sub clause B of Clause 2, the reference to Hindu shall be constructed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhish religions."

The complainant has submitted that since the response was reiteration of the original report, he had no option but to write a detailed rejoinder to the respondent-editor taking serious objection to the unwarranted inclusion of the Jains community in the Scheduled Caste category.

Shri Justice Panachand Jain (Retd.) from Jaipur vide letter dated 2.2.2008 sent his opinion in the matter for consideration on the complaint of Shri Bal Patil hoping to be of some assistance in resolving the controversy. Shri Justice Jain has stated that it is desirable that one may first understand the concept of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. To determine whether or not a particular caste is a Scheduled Caste or not, one has to look at the notification issued by the President under Article 341 and once such a notification is issued by the President it becomes final and any modification thereof can be made by way either of including or excluding from the list any caste, race of tribe or part or group thereof by law made by the Parliament. Under this provisions, the President promulgated a number of orders listing the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and also on the recommendation of the Backward Classes Commission, the Parliamant modified the Presidential orders by enacting the S.C. & S.T. Order (Amendment) Act. Clause (3) of the


Scheduled Caste Order 1950 provides that no person who professes a religion different from the Hindus or the Sikh shall be deemed to be a member of the Scheduled Caste. This provision has created a difficulty that under Clause (3) of the order only a person professing the Hindu or the Sikh religion can belong to a Scheduled Caste and a person who became a Buddist and declared that he had ceased to be a Hindu could not derive any benefit from the order. The Supreme Court also held when a member of a Scheduled Caste is converted to Christianity and thereafter is reconverted to Hinduism, that he belongs to his original caste if members of the caste accepts him as a member.

From the above statement of facts and law it is thus clear as to who is a Scheduled Caste, stated Shri Justice Jain and added that the Jains cannot thus be considered to be falling within the definition of Scheduled Caste and the Jain do not find any place in any of the Presidential orders, consequently cannot be regarded as Scheduled Caste.

Notice for Comments

A notice for comments was issued to the respondent on 25.2.2008.

Comments

The respondent Editor-in-Chief of the Hindu Shri N.Ram in his comments dated 27.3.2008 has submitted that the news item in question was a factual report based on the public utterance of Mr. Vijay Sonkar Sastri, President of All India Scheduled Caste Reservation Protection Forum, former BJP MP and former Chairman of the SC/ST Commission, at a news conference at Kochi, Kerala. He has stated that the news item, a mere reproduction of what was stated in public, was published in good faith and in public interest in order to bring the news of a proposed agitation scheduled nationwide and without any intention of causing any hurt to any person of any religion, caste or community. On being approached in the matter, Shri V.S.Sastri stood by what he had said at the news conference and stated that 'the SCs among Jains are constitutionally

entitled to SC reservation and the organization that took the objection is not aware of the fact' stated the respondent and added that the newspaper and its correspondents adhered to the journalistic norms, guidelines and ethics.

Copies of the comments were forwarded to the complainant Shri Bal Patil and Shri Justice P. C. Jain on 4.4.2008 and 23.4.2008 respectively for their information and counter comments, if any.

Counter Comments

Shri Justice Panachand Jain (Retd.) in his counter comments dated 5.5.2008 has submitted that clubbing together amongst the current Scheduled Castes, 'Hindu, Sikhs, Jains and Buddists' with Jains is not only misleading but it is factually incorrect. It is in this manner that a controversy is being raised and Jains are unnecessarily being dragged into the category of Scheduled Castes for the purpose of undermining their superiority in comparison to Forward Hindu castes and communities, stated Shri Justice Jain. He has added that Shri Patil, the complainant was against the unwarranted and misleading inclusion of Jains in the Scheduled Caste category and desired that correct statement of fact may be published. Shri Justice Jain further has alleged that clubbing Jains amongs Dalits is a serious insinuation against the Jain community as Jains do not fall amongs the category of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes which has a special meaning under the Constitution. He has submitted that the defence taken by the respondent is not sustainable in law and appropriate action may be taken in the matter. The complainant Shri Bal Patil in his letter dated 9.5.2008 has submitted that he concurred in toto with the arguments and citations given by Shri Justice Panachand Jain to refute the statement of the respondent.

A copy each of the counter comments dated 5.5.2008 and 9.5.2008 received from Shri Justice Panachand Jain and Shri Bal Patil respectively were forwarded to the respondent on 14.5.2008 for information.

Show Cause Notice

Since the complainant was not satisfied with the comments made by the respondent, a show cause notice was issued to the respondent on 30.5.2008.

Written Statement

Shri N. Ram, the respondent–Editor in Chief of the Hindu in his written statement dated 16.6.2008 has submitted that the news item in question was a factual report based on the public utterances of Mr. Vijay Sonkar Sastri, President of All India Scheduled Caste Reservation Protection Forum, former BJP MP and former Chairman of the SC/ST Commission, at a news conference at Kochi, Kerala. The news item, a mere reproduction of what was stated in public, was published in good faith and in public interest in order to bring the news of proposed agitation scheduled nationwide and without any intention of causing any hurt to any person of any religion, caste of community stated the respondent. He has added that on receipt of objections from the complainant, the Special Correspondent approached Mr. Vijay Sonkar Sastri, who then stood by what he had said at the news conference. They have also spoken to Mr. K.V.Madanan, working President of All India SC Reservation Protection Forum, who stated that as per Explanation 2 of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, which says " In Sub Clause B of Clause 2, the reference to "Hindu" shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhit religions", and this information was also conveyed to the complainant, stated the respondent. The complainant further submitted that there has been no violation of such norms, guidelines and ethics in the matter.

Copies of the written statements were forwarded to the complainant and Shri Justice Panachand Jain (Retd.) on 20.6.2008 for information/counter comments, if any.

Appearance before the Inquiry Committee

The matter came up for hearing before the Inquiry Committee on 22.08.2008 at New Delhi. S/Shri Bal Patil, General Secretary, All India Jain Minority Forum (New Delhi), Mumbai, appeared in person, along with Shri Justice Pana Chand Jain. S/Shri S. Ramanujam alongwith Mr. M.K.V. Vishwanathan, Advocate appeared for the respondent, The Hindu.


Submissions before the Inquiry Committee

The complainant submitted, with due respect to Dalits that the news item in The Hindu quoting the statement of Shri Vijay Sonkar Shastri on SCs among Jains was misconceived. The complainant submitted that there are no Dalits in Jains. The complainant submitted that the newspaper report unfairly included Jains in the SC category. The complainant requested that his rejoinder should be published. Shri Justice Panachand Jain submitted that the newspaper had given factually wrong statement. The newspaper should have published their version that Jains are not included in SCs to rectify the misgivings.

The Counsel for The Hindu submitted that the complaint was not maintainable. The respondent submitted that as per several Supreme Court Judgments embracing any religion by a Dalit does not deprive him or her of the rights available prior to conversion. He added that The Hindu held no ill intention in the case and only reported a statement at a press conference, therefore, the complaint should be rejected.

Recommendations of the Inquiry Committee

The Inquiry Committee upon perusing the documents and hearing the parties finds that although the newspaper, the Hindu had only carried the statements made at a press conference and its bonafide could not be doubted. However, it was advisable for the editor to have published the views of the complainant to allow him to put his point of view before the readers. As an impartial reporter, that was the prime duty of a newspaper. The Inquiry Committee, therefore, directed the Editor, The Hindu,

through its counsel, to publish the gist of the complainant's rejoinder as per norms and send clippings to the Council as well as to the Complainant for information and record. It recommended to the Council to dispose off the matter accordingly.

Decision of the Council

The Press Council, on consideration of the records of the case and report of the Inquiry Committee accepts the reasons, findings and the recommendations of the Committee and decides accordingly.



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