The Supreme Court Monday frowned upon the central government for not doing anything to recover nearly Rs.30 crore loss suffered by the railways during a blockade by a community in Haryana in 2011.
The court also moaned that there was a culture in the country to commit atrocities on the weak and the poor.
Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice V. Gopala Gowda said: “We want to know what steps you have taken to recover the losses suffered by you. Do you want the court to summon the general manager (Northern Railway)?”
“Why have you not recovered it from government of Haryana?” the court asked senior counsel for the railways J.S. Attri.
Justice Singhvi observed: “Will you write off the loss? Three years have passed. Will you take another 30 years to recover the costs? This is just one case, there are hundreds of other cases across the country.”
“When people suffer the loss, how will you recover it? Parliament enactment is there. Supreme court judgment is there,” the court said.
Members of the dominant caste in January 2011 organised an 11-day agitation in the wake of the arrest of 98 of their members for allegedly attacking Dalits of Mirchpur village in Hisar district on April 21, 2010.
The court sought information from the Haryana government on the rehabilitation of the Dalit victims of Mirchpur violence.
Counsel for Haryana Manjit Dalal sought to clarify that there was no disruption in the movement of trains as these were diverted on different routes to reach their destinations and the total loss was not Rs.30 crore but less than Rs.7 lakh.
Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves told the court that there was no rehabilitation of the Dalits who had left the village because of their social economic boycott there.
Gonsalves, who appeared for petitioner Dalit victims, said that to a large extent they had been paid compensation but their rehabilitation still remained a far cry.
The court was told that under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, they should be provided separate lands and their children should be admitted to boarding schools.
Resisting the plea for allotment of land for the rehabilitation of Mirpur victims, the Haryana government’s counsel said: “We have to see people from all castes should live together and not that an area be identified for settling the people from one caste alone. It will send wrong signals.”
“Who is responsible for this dividing of society on caste lines?” asked Justice Singhvi, adding, “That is the problem we don’t want to speak”.
Observing that “nobody wants to take the bull by horn”, the court said that “this is a part of the culture of this country to commit atrocities on the weak and poor and not just on the basis of caste only”.