The ill-treatment meted out to people belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) communities for the past many centuries should make us hang our heads in shame, the Madras High Court said on Monday adding there was little change in the situation even today.
The strong observation was made in a suo motu case registered by the Court based on a newspaper report which highlighted the hardships faced by people belonging to SC communities owing to the absence of a road to a graveyard.
The lack of a road to the graveyard was forcing them to pass through agriculture fields with standing crops in Maruthur Colony, Melur Taluk, as published in the December 21 edition of the Tamil daily, Dinakaran.
Expressing anguish over the continuing hardships faced by the SC community, a Bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi said in their order:
“We have to hang our head in shame for having ill-treated and discriminated the Scheduled Caste people for centuries together. Even today, they are not getting properly treated and offences are continuing, and they are not getting appropriate basic amenities.”
The Court noted that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was introduced to remedy the ill-treatment of members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and to ensure their dignity is preserved.
The Court added that while the Act may be abused by some, especially those employed in the government, those were aberrations.
In this case, the Bench took note that the absence of a road was forcing people from SC community to carry dead bodies through the fields with standing crops putting them to unnecessary trouble and untold hardships.
Not only living persons but dead bodies should also be given dignity, the Court underscored.
“The Schedule Caste people should have roads to graveyards. This news report only reflects that there are no proper pathways/roads to the graveyards. Therefore, this Court thinks it fit to take the above issue reported in the newspaper as a Suo Motu Public Interest Litigation,” it added.
The Chief Secretary of the State’s Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department, the Additional Chief Secretary to the State Revenue Department and the Additional Chief Secretary to the State’s Municipal Administration & Water Supply Department were suo motu impleaded as parties and directed to answer the following queries, i.e.
- How many Scheduled Caste habitations are located in the State of Tamil Nadu?
- Whether all the Scheduled Caste habitations have got drinking water facilities, streetlights and toilet facilities as well as roads to the graveyards?
- How many habitations do not have roads to graveyards?
- What are all the steps are taken, including the acquiring of lands for laying of roads for graveyards?
- By what time will all Schedule Castes habitations be provided with water facilities, streetlights toilet facilities as well as pathways to the graveyards?