Chandigarh, Sept. 21: Taking serious note of the word “Dalit” being used in the print, electronic and social media for newly-appointed Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, the Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission chairperson, Tejinder Kaur, today issued instructions not to use it to mark the identity of any person belonging to Scheduled Castes.
The majority of the media has been terming new Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi as ‘Dalit’.
Kaur said the nomenclature “Dalit” does not find mention in the Constitution of India or any statute and the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment had already directed all chief secretaries of states and union territory administrations against its use.
Kaur reminded that Gwalior Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court had passed an order on January 15, 2018, in case W.P. No. 20420 of 2017 (PIL) --- Dr Mohan Lal Mahor Vs Union of India & Ors stipulating “..... that the Central Government/State Government and its functionaries would refrain from using the nomenclature “Dalit” for the members belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as the same does not find mention in the Constitution of India or any statute”.
Following the directions of the high court, the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment had directed state governments and union territory administrations to use the word “Scheduled Caste” instead of “Dalit” for persons falling in the category.
Acting on reports of violations being made by various media groups, the Union information and broadcasting ministry had also issued notice to private TV channels asking them to comply with an order passed earlier by the Bombay High Court to not use the word “Dalit” in reports, Kaur said.
Kaur revealed that the Punjab panel had in a letter to state chief secretary Vini Mahajan on September 13 also recommended to rename villages, towns and other places known after castes, besides refraining from using the word Harijan and Girijan in official work and ensure strict compliance of the instructions.
In February 2019, the Supreme Court had rejected a plea challenging the Centre’s order against the use of the word “Dalit” by the media.