Legal luminaries and retired judges of the Apex court and AP High Court have at a meeting here expressed their concern over the continued socio-economic subjugation of the SCs and STs and sought to mobilise the marginalised sections to fight for their rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

The former judges were participating in the two-day centenary celebrations of the Challappa Masthry Memorial Ambedkar Bhavan in Tirupati on Saturday. Retired judge of the Supreme Court, Justice K. Ramaswamy, who spoke on the implementation of the rule of reservation in judiciary, regretted that the facility still remained a far cry and said unless the suppressed and the oppressed communities took up the cudgels for the cause, it could never be achieved.

He also lamented that because of the lacunae in the present Act, right over their land holdings was still evading the SCs and STs though more than 51 per cent of them depended heavily on agriculture and were still living below the poverty line.

Retired judge of the AP High Court, Justice Chandraiah spoke on the four major rights – political, social, education and employment and economic rights-- conferred on the SC/STs under the Indian Constitution and underscored the need to sensitise them towards asserting their rights for their own socio-economic and political development.

Justice Motilal B. Nayak, another retired judge of the AP High Court bemoaned that even 63 years after independence, the evil of untouchability still haunted the Dalits and said the only way to root it out was to give them the political clout which still evaded them despite all legislations and Acts.

Among the other participants were Dr.K. Nagaiah, Chairman of the Ambedkar Bhavan and former head of the AP State S.C. Welfare Association, P. Dasaramaiah, retired District Judge and T. Doraswamy, Director of Prosecutions (retired).

The Ambedkar Bhavan, which is celebrating its centenary was built 102 years ago by one Challappa, a wealthy Dalit from Gudiyattam taluk of Tamilnadu, to serve as a rest house for the Dalits visiting Tirupati/Tirumala, as they were being denied ‘darshan' and accommodation during their pilgrimage here because of ‘untouchability'.

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