To call Dalit by caste is an offence: SC

Calling a Dalit by his caste with a view to insulting him or her is an offence under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), the Supreme Court has ruled.

Last Updated: Apr 19, 2011, 21:02 PM IST

New Delhi: Calling a Dalit by his caste with
a view to insulting him or her is an offence under Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act),
the Supreme Court has ruled, upholding the conviction of two
persons in Tamil Nadu.

A bench of justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra
also deplored the "two tumbler" practice prevalant in the
state and asked the government to rid the menace, failing
which it said the police and administrative officers concerned
shall be liable for prosecution under the Act.
In some parts of the state, there is a practice of
serving food and beverages in separate tumblers for members of
the Dalit and other castes.

The accused Arumugam Servai and Ajit Kumar, who belonged
to the `servai" bacward caste community, were convicted by the
sessions judge Madurai for calling the Dalits Panneerselvam
and Mahamani by their caste "pallan" and assaulting them.
"The word ‘pallan’ no doubt denotes a specific caste,
but it is also a word used in a derogatory sense to insult
someone (just as in North India the word ?chamar? denotes a
specific caste but it is also used in a derogatory sense to
insult someone).

"Even calling a person a ‘pallan’, if used with the
intent to insult a member of the Scheduled Caste, is, in our
opinion, an offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act),
1989," Justice Katju writing the judgement said.

PTI

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