A person having a photograph of Jesus Christ in her house would not strictly mean that she has converted to Christianity, observed the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court recently.
A division bench of Justices Prithviraj Chavan and Urmila Joshi Phalke made the observation while allowing a petition challenging a district caste scrutiny committee's rejection of a minor girl's claim that she belonged to the ‘Mahar’ caste.
The committee arrived at its decision after its vigilance cell found a photograph of Jesus Christ in the girl's house during a visit.
The High Court, however, opined that merely having a photograph of Jesus in one's house would not imply that the person has converted to Christianity.
“Merely because the officer of the Vigilance Cell, during his visit to the house of the petitioner, noticed a photograph of Lord Jesus Christ, he assumed that the petitioner’s family professes Christian religion. No sane man will accept or believe that merely because there is a photograph of Jesus Christ in the house would ipso facto mean that a person had converted himself into Christianity,” the HC said on October 10.
"Photograph gifted by someone"
The girl said that the photograph had been gifted by someone and, therefore, was displayed in the house. The girl, who claimed to be a practising Buddhist, sought that she should be certified as a member of the ‘Mahar’ community, which is recognized as a Scheduled Caste under the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order.
The vigilance cell officers had alleged in their report that the father and grandfather of the girl had converted to Christianity.
However, the Court observed that there was not a shred of evidence to prove that the father or the grandfather had undergone baptism to convert to Christianity.
The Court also noted that the traditional occupation of the petitioner and her family was labour work. Further, the Court was also told that marriages in the family were performed as per Buddhist rituals.
The HC has directed the caste scrutiny committee to issue a caste validity certificate, within two weeks, to the petitioner, certifying that she belonged to the ‘Mahar’ caste.