MOHAMMAD SADIQUE is a Sikh although his parents and wife were Muslim. For, not changing the name would not make him a Muslim when he embraced Sikhism.
The Supreme Court held this on Friday as it reinstated Sadique as MLA from Punjab’s Bhadaur constituency. Sadique, a Congress leader, was elected from Bhadur (Sangrur), a seat reserved for Scheduled Castes, in the 2012 assembly polls.
Sadique’s election had been set aside by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in April 2015 after it was challenged by SAD-BJP candidate Darbara Singh Guru. Guru, a former IAS officer, had contended that Sadiqu contested from an SC seat despite being a Muslim.
The High Court accepted his petition and said that Sadique had failed to prove his conversion from Islam to Sikhism. “Since he is a Muslim, he is not qualified to contest the election on a seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes,” it had said while disqualifying Sadique as an MLA.
But the apex court overturned this judgment after laying down important legal principles regarding religious conversion. A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and P C Pant ruled that “it is not essential for anyone to change one’s name after embracing a different faith”.
The court said it was not necessary in law that entire family of a person should convert or reconvert to the religion to which he has gone. Referring to a body of judgments, the bench held that loss of caste is not irrevocable and the caste can be revived if the two religions permit its retention.
It also lent credence to Sadique’s statement that although his parents and wife were Muslim, he always followed Sikh traditions and that he never offered namaz nor observed roza nor went to Haj.
Further, Sadique got his daughters married in Hindu families and was accepted by the Sikh community, which was apparent from his visits to gurdwaras where he performed kirtans and other ceremonies and rituals. The court noted that he and his children were duly issued Schedule Caste certificates since Sadique was born in ‘doom’ caste in Punjab.
Sadique could also adequately explain that since he was popular as a singer with the name ‘Mohammad Sadique’ as such without changing his name, he accepted Sikhism and followed all rites and traditions of Sikh religion.
The bench therefore upheld Sadique’s election as the MLA from Bhadur and rejected the election petition by his opponent SAD-BJP leader.