The Delhi High Court today asked whether the use of the word ‘Dalit’ in news articles was illegal, after a plea sought restraining of media houses from using it on the ground that it created inequality in society. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar also directed the petitioner to approach the Press Council of India (PCI) with a complaint in this regard which, it said, should be decided “expeditiously” by it.
“Where is the illegality? Is it prohibited under the statute,” the bench asked petitioner Prem Kumar Singh, adding that he had never sought redressal of the issue by the PCI, a statutory body governing the media in the country.
“This petition has been filed without sending a complaint to the Press Council of India or seeking redressal of the issue. In view of the above, it is disposed of with liberty to petitioner to make a complaint to the PCI which shall take a view expeditiously in accordance with law,” the bench said.
During the hearing, the counsel appearing for PCI said the media watchdog does not promote or encourage use of such words and, if at all used, they are only in a context. The PIL has sought a direction to the PCI to take appropriate steps to ensure that the word is not used “unnecessarily and unjustifiably” without any relevance.
Referring to some news headlines which had used the expression ‘Dalit’, the petitioner had said, “The legislature has made provisions to ensure no one may create any kind of hatred or animosity between the different communities or religions of the country, so that there may be a harmonious atmosphere in the society”.
Aggrieved by the “excessive” use of words Dalit and ‘upper caste’, the plea alleged that despite a law and guidelines in place, the media houses keep on raising the issue of Dalit atrocities unnecessarily.