Caste discrimination is highly condemnable and common burial ground for people of every community and caste should be done as right to dignity encompasses beyond life and is upheld within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution: Madras High Court

The Madras High Court passed a judgment on 29th October, 2021 in which it stated that Common Cremation and Burial grounds should be promoted and there shouldn’t be any caste segregation and any violation shall be penalized. This was observed in the case of B. Kalaiselvi & Anr.v. The District Collector & Others (W.P No. 9229 of 2021 & W.M.P.No. 9767 of 2021) and the case was presided over by Hon’ble Mr. Justice R. Mahadevan.


Kalaiselvi and Mala Rajaram, who were aggrieved by the usage of a water body close to their houses to bury the remains of people from the Arunthathiyar group, filed a writ petition. They requested the court to issue a writ of mandamus ordering the first respondent to designate a permanent location for the burial of Arunthathiyar Community members’ remains and to forbid them from doing so on the Odai community’s ground. 

The petitioners claimed that the dead bodies of Arunthathiyar community from Madur Village are buried in the land classified as ‘Odai Puramboke’ that bounds their land and is in contravention to the Rule 7 of Tamil Nadu Village Panchayats (Provision of burial and burning grounds) Rules, 1999. This law prohibits burning a corpse or its burial within 90 meters of a dwelling place.

Further the question of “whether the right to dignity in human life is an integral part of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and subsists during the span of one’s life or takes within its sweep, the right to a decent burial or cremation after death as well?”


The hon’ble court disposing off the writ petition observed every person irrespective of their community or religion deserves a burial/cremation and right to life encompasses beyond death and any discrimination thereof is violative of Article 14, 15, 17 and 21 of the Constitution. 

Justice Mahadevan quoted that:

“If the water that we drink does not ask about our faith, caste and religion; if the air that we breathe do not ask about our faith, caste and religion; and if the land where we all live do not ask about our faith, caste and religion; if the cosmos do not ask about our faith, caste and religion, then who are we to ask about others faith, caste and religion. Therefore, let the dead rest in peace.” thus reiterating that no discrimination shall be done on the basis of caste or community.

Further, the Court also stated that wards and constituencies that support the idea of community burial sites in text and spirit may be given incentives, whether monetary or not. The government might also take the initiative to integrate the principles of religious and communal tolerance, as well as aspects of diversity, in the curricula for schools,to advocate awareness of social discrimination and racial prejudice. Lastly, The court has also emphasized how strongly condemnable the encroachment on ‘Puramboke’ lands is. Therefore, the court noted, it would be appropriate if the respondents could set aside a sufficient piece of land as a communal burial place for everyone in Madur village, regardless of caste, creed, or religion.

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