SC indicates inquiry into 'social boycott' of Dalits

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to be ready with names of three or four officers who could hold inquiry into the matter. (PTI File Photo)

The Supreme Court indicated on Wednesday that it might order an inquiry into the alleged "social boycott" of Dalit community in a Haryana village for over two years due to a dispute with the "dominant" community over drawing water from a hand-pump.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to be ready with names of three or four officers who could hold inquiry into the matter.

"You give names of some independent officers who are neither from this community nor from that community," the bench told Mehta.

The bench was hearing a petition which has raised the issue of alleged social boycott of Dalit community in a village in Haryana's Hisar district from July 2, 2017.

During the arguments, the bench asked senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioners, as to why they were seeking a CBI inquiry into the matter.

"You are asking for a CBI inquiry. What is it that you will get from it? There is no problem in ordering CBI inquiry but what you will get from that," the bench asked.

Gonsalves said the state police has done nothing in the matter and they have been "acting on the side of the dominant community in the whole process".

Mehta told the bench that the incident took place around two-and-half-year ago and the situation has "calmed down" there.

"In the high court (of Punjab and Haryana) there was a petition seeking CBI inquiry. The high court had asked the district judge to visit the place and verify this. The residents there said they have settled everything among themselves but two people are coming and instigating the villagers," he said.

Regarding names of independent officers, Mehta said it might not be required in the interest of justice.

The bench, however, asked him to be ready with names of officers and posted the matter for hearing in December.

The apex court had earlier termed the issue as "serious" and said it is a matter related to social boycott and atrocity and the police has to take action.

The plea has sought a direction to the CBI to take over the probe and prosecute those against whom complaints have been filed with the police alleging that not even a single person has been arrested so far.

It has also sought a direction to the Haryana government to "immediately put an end to the social boycott imposed by the dominant community since July 2, 2017, inter alia, and punish all those responsible for the social boycott by imposition of a collective fine on the dominant community..."

It has sought a direction for appropriate externment orders against those involved in the incident and payment of substantial compensation to the victims.

"There has never been such a severe and protracted social boycott of a village of Dalit community comprising of about 500 houses for such a protracted period of over one and half years as in the present instance," the plea said.

It alleged that the issue was raised before the Punjab and Haryana High Court but the social boycott still continues.

The petitioners claimed that dispute arose on June 15, 2017 when a group of Dalit boys were assaulted by the members of dominant community over the use of a hand-pump for drawing water.

It said that six persons were hospitalised in the assault after which an FIR was registered.

The petitioners alleged that when the members of Dalit community refused to withdraw the FIR, the members of dominant community and an unregistered organisation issued a call for their social boycott and even their water supply was stopped.

"As a result of the social boycott imposed by respondent number three (organisation), the Dalit community have been blocked from free entry into residential areas and fields which they have exercised for decades. They have been blocked from accessing ration shops, dairy shops, hair cutting saloons and the water supply has been sporadically stopped forcing the Dalits to approach the administration," the plea said.

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