New Delhi (PTI): Taking a grim view of people using derogatory words to address Dalits, the Supreme Court has said that such acts are liable for criminal prosecution.
"The caste system is a curse on our nation and the sooner it is destroyed the better. In fact, it is dividing our country at a time when we must all be united as Indians if we wish to face the gigantic problems confronting us like poverty, unemployment, price rise, corruption, etc," the apex court observed.
The SC/ST communities are also equal citizens of the country, and are entitled to a life of dignity in view of Article 21 (right to personal liberty) of the Constitution, a bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Markandeya Katju said.
"In the age of democracy no person or community should be treated as being inferior. However, the truth is that in many parts of our country persons belonging to SC/ST are oppressed, humiliated and insulted. This is a disgrace to our country," the bench observed.
The apex court passed the observation while dismissing the appeal filed by a woman and her daughter living in the Greater Kailash-II area in the Capital, challenging the registration of an FIR by the CR Park police against them on a complaint filed by Vinod Kumar, under the SC, ST (prevention of atrocities) Act.
Kumar had filed a complaint against Simran Kaur and Tarjeet, wife and daughter respectively, alleging that the two had repeatedly used derogatory words remarks against him and also poured dirty water on him on December 10 2004. The provocation was the alleged previous enmity between Kumar's employer Umesh Gupta and the family of the accused, the complainant said.
The accused moved Delhi High Court for quashing the FIR but the plea was dismissed following which they filed an appeal in the apex court.