Lobby Letter to Prime Minister Modi

A Letter to Prime Minister Modi on UK Caste Legislation & Case Law

Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi

Date: 24th March 2018

Dear Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned, support the position of Anti Caste Legislation Committee (ACLC). ACLC have a track record as the lead alliance that is working to reverse the prospect of a caste law in the United Kingdom. We have already achieved concessions from the U.K. Government, in its recent consultation on the law, to the effect of extending the consultation period and that responders may object to both canvassed options: legislation and case law. We have also secured agreement from Mr Bob Blackman MP and three other members of parliament as to repeal of the caste case law and the legislative caste clause.

We write to you with our serious concerns over the caste law, currently under consideration by the British government. We hope that you will be able to exercise your good offices to express your concerns about the caste law during the forthcoming meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government in London in April 2018.

Evidently, matters of British law are a question of the internal affairs of the United Kingdom. However, the prospect of the enactment of secondary legislation on caste discrimination in addition to already-existing case law (under the Equality Act 2010), both heavily sponsored by interests’ hostile to the Indian state and society, should also be a matter of some concern to the Indian government. The British Government’s recent consultation on the caste law was framed as though some caste law must be assented to. The consultation’s result, which should be shortly announced, is bound to favour retaining the case law to which we object strenuously for the reasons set out below.

The caste law is a prelude to further pressure being brought to bear within bilateral and multilateral fora for India to continue to extend caste reservations to Indian Christians and Muslims and to harden caste cleavages through other legislation. The view might be taken that it constitutes a potentially undesirable interference in India’s internal affairs.

We are also concerned that cleavages within the Indian diaspora community in Britain are deepening such that communal conflict could easily emerge in India as well as segments of the Indian diaspora because of the ensuing tensions. This is a particular concern in the overseas British Punjabi community. It should be noted that instances cited as bearing out practices of caste discrimination concern Britain’s Sikh community but no others.

We are seriously disturbed by the fact that the position of Indian investors, businesses, professionals and students would be jeopardised by being exposed to claims under the caste discrimination law which are impossible to guard against given the unpredictable and arbitrary effects of the British law. Although the British government itself has recognised that caste has been impossible to define, the case law has already proceeded to expose service providers, employers and employees to both civil and criminal legal claims, entrapping them in litigation from which it may be difficult to extricate. It is important to highlight the fact that non-resident Indians conducting economic, educational and other activities in the United Kingdom would be marked out as the group of foreign natural and legal persons most exposed to such legal actions.

In addition, there is a serious risk that pressure will be put on Governments in other countries with an Indian diaspora to have some sort of caste discrimination law, thereby adding to the pressure on the Indian government.

For further details please review the press release issued by ACLC that contains all the important links to concessions the ACLC has managed to secure from the Government Equalities Office, the potential impacts of the law, and our template guide to filling in the consultation form. To be clear, our position is that both the case law and duty to enact secondary legislation on caste discrimination must be repealed by the British parliament at the earliest opportunity.

In recent days it has transpired that Cambridge Analytica has been involved in Indian politics and confirms our inferences that it is working with evangelical groups here in the UK supporting the pro caste legislation group.

Yours faithfully,

Anti Caste Legislation Committee