The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court here has dismissed a PIL seeking directions to the Tamil Nadu government to remove ‘discriminatory’ titles such as ‘cheri, kuppam, colony’ give to habitations of Scheduled Caste people from all government records and rechristen them.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice S K Kaul and S Nagamuthu said the petitioner had failed to place any material to prove his claim that the terminology was being used in an offensive manner.
Petitioner S Karuppiah, Joint General Secretary of the Dalit Liberation Movement, said the terms such as ‘cheri’ and ‘colony’ were derogatory and violated the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
The judges rejected the contention that the term ‘colony’ reflected colonisation by the British and hence it was used to refer to Dalit habitations in villages.
They said colony was a term used to refer to any area of habitation.
The CJ said that his brother Judge S Nagamuthu was well versed in Tamil and they had come to the conclusion that cheri meant village and kuppam meant a part of the village.
Besides, Kuppam also meant fishermen’s hamlets along seashore. Kuppam also denotes slum area in the city.
The petitioner had not produced material before the court to substantiate his claim that the words being were used in a derogatory manner to refer to Dalit habitations.