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What the Supreme Court says and does

October 28,2008

How Supreme Court has missed one more opportunity to weaken caste politics

Over the past few decades, the Supreme Court has on several occasions said that caste reservations actually hardens 'caste' feelings. Yet whenever presented with an opportunity, the Supreme Court has chosen to sidestep the issue. While reservations could be a ticklish issue, caste politics could have been tackled without so much of acrimony. By refusing to consider the issues raised by the petitioner Velu Gandhi, one more opportunity to weaken caste politics has been missed.
Court 'no' to PIL against caste names in voter list Oct 27, 2008
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain a public interest litigation petition filed by an 84-year-old Gandhian for a direction to the Centre, the States and the Election Commission not to mention caste names in voter lists. "It is not possible for this court to pass any such order," Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan told Velu Gandhi of Salem in Tamil Nadu. Justices P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam were the other judges on the Bench. Mr. Velu, who was allowed to make his submissions in Tamil, said the caste system was the root cause of all ills in society. He attributed the recent violence in Orissa and religious conversions to caste conflicts. The petitioner said PIL was filed because of the discrimination meted out to the people on the basis of their castes. It said that the caste system prevailing in the country "is a sign of feudal system and the State agency is consolidating it. Electoral roll specially mentions the caste of the voter which is highly objectionable. The fundamental rights of any citizen should not be evaluated on the basis of his caste." The petitioner said that the disclosure of caste in the voters' list also hampered free elections in the country and democracy was in danger due to the perpetration of caste system. He sought a direction for abolition of caste disclosure in electoral rolls.


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