The Bombay High Court has asked the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to consider issuing a direction to media to stop using the word ‘Dalit’, following a circular advising government officials against using the word.
The Nagpur bench of the high court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Pankaj Meshram, seeking removal of the word Dalit from all government documents and communication. “As the central government has issued necessary directions to its officers, we find that it can also issue suitable directions as per the law to respondent no. 2 (Press Council) and the media to refrain from using the same word,” the bench comprising justices B P Dharmadhikari and ZA Haq said.
Meshram’s lawyer S R Nanaware informed the court on June 6 that the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had issued a circular on March 15, advising the central and state governments to avoid the word `Dalit’ and instead use the term ‘person belonging to Scheduled Caste’. Advocate D P Thakare, who appeared for the Maharashtra government, said the state was also in the process of taking a decision on the matter.
Nanaware said that in the light of this circular, media should also be asked to stop using the word Dalit. The bench then directed the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to consider the issue.
“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 directions to the media and take suitable decision within the next six weeks,” the court said in its order while disposing of the PIL.
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