When persons belonging to different castes marry, what happens to their caste status? What will be the caste status of their children? Whether a woman marrying a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe/OBC citizen becomes entitled to claim reservation under the SC/ST/OBC quota? Whether a woman belonging to SC/ST/OBC category marrying a OC category citizen will continue to enjoy the reservation meant for SC/ST/OBC category?
Law on the above points is well settled now. The courts have held that a husband and wife are one under the Hindu law and so long as the wife survives she is half of the husband and on marriage the wife becomes an integral part of husband’s marital home and she becomes a member of the family and thereby she becomes a member of the caste to which she moved. The caste rigidity breaks down and would stand no impediment to her becoming a member of the family to which the husband belongs and she gets herself transplanted. The courts have repeatedly held that on marriage, a wife will belong to the caste of her husband. Thus, a woman belonging to a forward caste, on marrying a Scheduled Caste citizen, will be treated as belonging to Scheduled Caste.
However, the question is: Whether a woman marrying a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe/OBC citizen becomes entitled to claim reservation under the SC/ST/OBC quota? The answer is: No. The Supreme Court of India has held that a person who had the advantageous start in life being borne in a forward community and had march of advantageous life but is transplanted in backward class by adoption, marriage or conversion does not become eligible to the benefit of reservation.
The next question is: Whether a woman belonging to SC/ST/OBC category marrying an OC category citizen will continue to enjoy the reservation meant for SC/ST/OBC category? It has been held by the courts that she will continue to enjoy the reservation despite her marriage with a person belong to a forward community.
What will be the caste of the children? Determination of caste of a person is governed by customary laws and a person under the customary Hindu law would be inheriting his caste from his father and not from his mother. In Anjan Kumar Vs Union of India, the husband belonged to a forward class community and wife belonged to a Scheduled Tribe community and their son claimed the communal status as that of his mother and claimed benefits under the Scheduled Tribe quota. The Supreme Court rejected his claim and held that he is not entitled to get the Scheduled Tribe Certificate.
The author is a lawyer by profession and has been practicing in the Madras High Court since 1980. He earned his Bachelors Degree in Economics in 1976 from the Madras Christian College Tambaram, Chennai. He studied law at the Madras Law College during 1976-79 and earned his Bachelors Degree in Law. He enrolled himself as an Advocate at the Tamil Nadu Bar Council, Chennai in 1980. is areas of practice include civil and commercial litigation, labour and employment, personal injury, matrimonial disputes, real estate, intellectual property, environment protection, human rights and consumer protection.