Under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950, every citizen of this country has the right to constitutional remedies when their fundamental rights have been violated by the State. These remedies may be accessed by approaching the respective High Court. However, during the lockdown imposed due to the outbreak of COVID-19, these constitutional guarantees remained only on paper in Tamil Nadu. Both the Chennai and Madurai benches of the Madras High Court and their Subordinates Courts have shut their doors, of course with the primary intention of controlling the spread of COVID-19. However, the courts and the legal process have become completely inaccessible for the common man, especially the most vulnerable sections of the society like individuals from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.
On 21.06.2019, Pratap, a Dalit man in Gudlupete, Karnataka who went to fetch water from a temple, was tied to a tree inside the temple, brutally assaulted and paraded naked on the highway by the villagers, including a policeman. This incident yet again throws the issue of caste discrimination into sharp focus. It is a testimony to the pervasiveness of caste discrimination in India and the prevalence of the practice of untouchability.