Madras High Court: The Division Bench of N. Kirubakaran and B. Pugalendhi, JJ., asked the State Government to file a report in the matter of lack of road to the graveyard for Scheduled Caste people due to which they are forced to pass through the agricultural ground with standing crops.
Petitioner sought a writ of mandamus, directing the respondent to provide pathway/road having access to burial ground from the villages where Adi Dravidar people have been residing so as to enable them to tale the dead bodies to the burial ground peacefully within the time stipulated by this Court.
“We have to hang our head in shame for having ill-treated and discriminated the Scheduled Caste people for centuries together.”
Bench added that since the Scheduled Caste people were not properly treated and offences committed against members of SCs and STs and rehabilitating the victims, the Centre passed the ‘The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989’, to give the dignity to prevent the crimes against members of Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes.
Even though the above stated Act was passed, yet the SC-ST people are not getting treated properly and offences are continuing.
In the instant case, a newspaper report published that there is a lack of road to graveyard forced Scheduled Caste people to pass through agriculture fields with standing crops.
Since no road facility has been provided to these people, they were compelled to carry the dead body through the fields with standing crops and put them to unnecessary trouble and untold hardships.
In light of the above, the Court stated that
Not only living persons but also dead bodies should be given dignity. The Scheduled Caste people should have roads to graveyards.
Court in view of the above opined that the issue reported is taken as a suo motu public interest litigation.
Respondents are directed to file a report with regard to the following queries:
(a) How many Scheduled Caste Habitations are located in the State of Tamil Nadu?
(b) Whether all the Scheduled Caste Habitations have got drinking water facilities, street lights and toilet facilities as well as roads to the graveyards?
(c) How many Habitations do not have roads to graveyards?
(d) What are all the steps taken, including the acquiring of lands for laying of roads for graveyards?
(e) By what time, all the Schedule Castes Habitations would be provided with water facilities, street lights toilet facilities as well as pathways to the graveyards?
[Registrar (Judicial) v. Secy. to Government; Suo Motu WP (MD) No. 19594 of 2020; decided on 21-12-2020]