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Women's Caste Does Not Change With Marriage: HC

PTI 23 Jan 2010, 17:43:37 IST

In a significant judgement, the Bombay High Court has held that the caste of a woman born into a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe does not change on her marriage to a person from a forward caste.

"An SC/ST person suffers from disadvantages and indignities just because he or she is born into a particular caste, which he or she acquires involuntarily on birth... The suffering of such a person is not wiped out by marriage to a person born in a forward caste and the SC/ST label continues notwithstanding marriage," observed a full bench of the court.

The ruling came yesterday on a petition filed by a city resident Rajendra Shrivastava who sought anticipatory bail after his wife, from a scheduled caste, accused him and her in-laws of "dowry harassment and casteist atrocities".  

Shrivastava, who is from a forward caste, argued that since the woman was married to him she could not seek protection under Prevention of Atrocities Act (PAA). He contended that after marriage a woman loses her original caste status and gains that of the man she marries. 

Justices B H Marlapalle, Abhay Oka and R Y Ganoo held that if the interpretation made by the petitioner is accepted then it would defeat the objective of enacting the PAA. 

"It would defeat the innovative steps taken by the framers of the constitution for protecting SC/ST persons, who have suffered for generations", the judges observed.  The full bench heard the matter after two single benches gave divergent rulings. While Justice V M Kanade ruled that a woman loses her caste status after marriage, Justice Dilip Bhosale held the opposite view. PTI