Case taken up suo motu based on news report in The Hindu

The Madras High Court Bench here on Monday appointed an advocate commissioner to ascertain the claim made by Tirunelveli former Collector R. Selvaraj that no child in the district was hired and forced into begging.

The First Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Kumar Agrawal and Justice Chitra Venkataraman made the appointment through an interim order passed in a public interest litigation petition taken up by the court suo motu following a news report published in The Hindu on August 19, 2011.

The judges directed advocate commissioner D. Geetha, to conduct a comprehensive enquiry into the issue as the news report had claimed that children in the age group of two to 10 years were hired for Rs. 100 to 125 a day and the practice had become a thriving industry in the district.

Earlier, during the course of hearing, Additional Advocate General K. Chellapandian submitted a report by Mr. Selvaraj who claimed to have taken a serious note of the news report and conducted a meeting with police and social welfare departments, child welfare committee, Child Line and other voluntary organisations on August 22, 2011.

After the meeting, two teams were formed to nab the culprits. These teams caught hold of seven women with eight babies and six children aged between six and 10 years while begging. Enquiries made with the women revealed that the babies were their own. Hence, they were let off with a warning that neither they nor their children should be seen begging in the future.

Apart from them, the two teams rescued an eight-year-old girl who was found begging along with her 19-year-old relative. The minor girl was lodged at Saranalayam, a home run by Tirunelveli Social Service Society, until her mother approached the officials concerned and took her custody a day later, the report stated.

Another case

Passing interim orders in another PIL petition taken up suo motu in 2010, the First Bench directed the Dindigul District Legal Services Authority to verify the claim that Dalits of Meikovilpatti village were denied pathway to a graveyard through non-Dalit localities and also access to an ‘Oor Manthai’ (a common ground earmarked in villages for public use).

The court had taken up the case following a news report of a Dalit youth having been forced to eat human excreta for walking with his footwear in a residential area occupied by non-Dalits on January 14, 2010. Subsequently, the youth P. Sadayandi (24) got himself included as a party in the case.

His counsel, R. Alagumani, told the court on Monday that as of now a major problem faced by Dalits of the village was over a pathway to the grave yard. He alleged that non-Dalits were refusing to allow the Dalits to carry the dead bodies through the former’s residential localities.