In the backdrop of the recent mob frenzy in Dharmapuri district and attack on Dalits in Cuddalore district, a public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Tamil Nadu Government to establish exclusive special courts under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Protection of Civil Rights Act in all atrocity-prone districts.
The First Bench of Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam ordered notice to the authorities, returnable in four weeks.
Petitioner A. Narayanan of Virugambakkam in Chennai, a social activist and Editor of ‘Paadam,’ a Tamil magazine, stated that as per Section 14 of the SC and ST Act, the government should have established special courts in all the districts.
However, such courts were functioning only in Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli and Madurai districts.
Mr. Narayanan said that as per the 2011 census, 19 per cent of the people in the State belonged to SC and 1.04 per cent, ST. Tamil Nadu had the fifth largest Dalit population in the country.
Though special courts are functioning in the four districts, various forms of atrocities were being reported from many other districts such as Dharmapuri, Villupuram, Cuddalore, Virudhunagar, Sivaganga, Coimbatore, Namakkal, Salem and Krishnagiri.
As per the report of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the list of Identified Areas or Atrocity-Prone Areas, designated by the Tamil Nadu Government, had 28 districts.
In the absence of special courts, trial of cases will be hampered.
Speedy justice will become elusive and subsequent rehabilitation of innocent victims delayed or denied, he said.