Calling a dalit by his caste an offence: SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said anyone calling a Dalit by his caste with an intention to insult him or her would commit an offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of atrocities) Act.

The court warned that the administrative and police officers would be held liable for prosecution if they failed to curb the practice of serving foods in two separate tumblers to Dalits and members of other castes. “This is an offence under the SC/ST Act, and hence those practising it must be criminally proceeded against and given harsh punishment if found guilty,” the Bench said.
Two persons Arumugam Servai and Ajit Kumar, belonging to the “servai” backward caste community, were held guilty by a Madurai sessions court for calling Panneerselvam and Mahamani by their caste “pallan”.
“The word ‘pallan’ no doubt denotes a specific caste, but it is also a word used in a derogatory sense to insult someone. Even calling a person a ‘pallan’, if used with an intent to insult a member of the SC, is, in our opinion, an offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989,” Justice Katju said.

A Bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra also decried the practice of “two tumblers” prevailing in Tamil Nadu, while upholding the conviction of two persons under the Act.


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