The Madras High Court on Wednesday ruled that persons who do not wish to disclose their caste or religion in application forms for admission to educational institutions in the state, should not be compelled to do so.
Disposing of a PIL filed by one G Balakrishnan, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, directed government to give wide publicity to a government order (GO) dated July 31, 2000 in this regard.
The state government had issued the order with the avowed objective of having a casteless society, the bench said.
Stating that counsel for the petitioner had submitted that the GO needed to be re-emphasised, the court directed the respondents to circulate the GO giving wide publicity "so that such persons who do not want to declare their caste or religion are not compelled to do so."
The PIL was filed seeking a direction to educational authorities to take appropriate steps to implement the GO with regard to the non-insistence of religion and caste of the student who prefer to remain "without such narrow and divisive identities."
The petition also prayed for appropriate instructions to to all educational institutions in the state to refrain from mentioning the religion/caste of the student in the Transfer Certificate issued by the institution concerned.
However, the bench refused to concede with the submission of the petitioner about not disclosing the caste and religion in the transfer certificate of students and said: "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."
"But if any person does not want the caste to be disclosed, we feel there is no need to mandatorily do so, keeping in mind the aforesaid government order."