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    Caste Discrimination Powers and amend Equality Act

     

    Potential new legal challenge urges Government to use Caste Discrimination Powers and amend Equality Act (23.04.2013)

    In the shadow of today’s second contentious House of Lords debate on caste discrimination, this week the Government must also respond to a unique legal challenge mounted by a 44 year old British Hindu from Birmingham.

    The applicant born in the UK and born into a so-called ‘low’ caste. As a result, she has experienced a, “generalised level of discrimination,” throughout aspects of her life – including inequality of pay and social exclusion while working for a so-called ‘high’ caste employer.  The applicant has two children, both under the age of 18, have also suffered from bullying at school due to caste discrimination.

    On 18th April 2013, the applicant formally requested, through her Solicitors, J.M. Wilson Solicitors LLP, the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP (Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport and Minister for Women & Equalities) and other concerned Ministers to exercise a Ministerial power contained under section 9(5)(a) Equality Act 2010 to provide victims of caste discrimination with equal protection as other ‘protected’ minorities.

    A Ministerial response is due by Thursday 25th April and, in the event that Ministers continue to refuse to exercise the statutory power, the applicant is determined to challenge their decision by judicial review, compelled on account of,

    “grave and mounting concern that the voices of so-called ‘low’ castes are going unheard. For years I have suffered in silence but I am determined to take this stand, so that my children and their generation need not tolerate injustice and lack of dignity due to their caste.”

    Mr Andrew Singh Bogan, AAFS Law Centre (Spokesperson on behalf of the applicant):

    The Coalition Government is taking historic strides in other spheres of equality laws such as gay marriage – yet appears stuck in the mud concerning caste discrimination. The appalling message this sends is that so-called ‘low’ castes do not deserve the same equality rights as others: ‘equal’ but truly not as equal as others. Ministerial inaction has resulted in profound disappointment and a sense of abandonment – and only perpetuates the exclusion and discrimination faced by so-called ‘low’ castes. If Ministers had presumed this policy offered the path of least resistance, then applicant legal challenge would suggest they are gravely mistaken.  This issue is centuries in the making – and it will not go away.

     

    It appears following receipt of the Pre Action Protocol Letter sent on 18th April 2013 by J.M. Wilson Solicitors LLP the Government today announced in a remarkable U-Turn that they will be amending the Equality Act to include Caste discrimination. For further details please see the BBC report http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22267147