The Bombay High Court has asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to consider directing media outlets to stop using the word “Dalit” in news reports or broadcasts. The court cited a circular by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment from March directing the Union and state governments to use the words “Scheduled Caste” and “Scheduled Tribe” instead of the word “Dalit”.
The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court was hearing a petition filed in 2016 seeking the removal of the word Dalit from all government documents, Live Law reported. The petitioner said the media needs to be told to stop using the word as per the circular. The petitioner named the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and the Press Council of India as respondents.
“As Central Government has issued necessary directions to its officers, we find that it can also issue suitable directions as per law to the respondent no. 2 [Press Council] and the media to refrain from using the same word,” the bench said. “Various institutes in the field are not before us and hence, we direct respondent No 1 [I&B Ministry] to consider the question of issuing such direction to the media and take suitable decision upon it within next six weeks.”
On March 15, the Union ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment wrote to all ministries, departments, states and Union territories asking them to avoid using the terms “Dalit” and “Harijan” when referring to members of Scheduled Caste communities. The letter said the words “Scheduled Caste” should be used in communiques to refer to people from these communities.