Babies do not carry any mark of caste at birth; it is society that labels them, says PIL

The Supreme Court has rejected at the admission stage a public interest litigation petition filed by an 86-year-old freedom fighter for a direction to the Centre and States to chalk out a programme for creation of a ‘Gandhi caste’ for children of inter-caste marriages to pave the way for establishment of a casteless society.

Speaking in Tamil, Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam, told ‘Salem’ Velu Gandhi alias C. Velu, who was permitted to address in Tamil, “We cannot entertain your prayer. You represent to the government. It is for them to consider.”

Mr. Velu said there should be only one caste to eradicate divisions in society and that should be called the Gandhi caste. Children born of inter-caste marriages should not suffer, he said.

“Heard the petitioner, who is appearing in person and perused the relevant material,” a Bench said in a brief order passed on Monday. “We are not inclined to go into the issue… The writ petition is, accordingly, dismissed. However, the petitioner is free to make a representation to the government for appropriate remedy.”

In his petition, Mr. Velu said babies do not carry any special mark of caste when they are born.

“It is society that labels them. The entire Hindu population is divided into more than 9,500 castes. Even among Muslims, there are various sub-castes.”

Mr. Velu regretted that caste labels had acquired government sanction as early as in 1920. Discrimination on the basis of caste had been the root cause of slavery of the country for long. After independence, elected representatives perpetuated the caste system.

“When a kid is taken to a school for admission, his caste is asked and it is noted in the column meant for it. Discrimination begins from here. The nation should adopt a four-fold principle to form the Gandhi caste and usher in a true secular country, viz. involving those who do not believe in the caste system; inter-caste marriage families; orphaned children, and those who decided to change their religion.”

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