Mumbai: The positivity attached to the sound ‘s’ in Hindi led a city-based NGO to file a public interest litigation before the Bombay High Court, seeking that the word ‘anaath’ (orphan) has a negative connotation and should instead be changed to ‘swanaath’. Incidentally, the NGO, a voluntary organisation working for children in need of protection, is itself called Swanaath Foundation.
The petition was, however, dismissed by a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar, which observed there is no stigma attached to the word ‘anaath’.
According to the plea, children who have lost their parents are already vulnerable and the word ‘anaath’ reflects neediness, helplessness and deprivation. Hence it sought that the name be changed to ‘swanath’, which means self-reliant and confident.
The court said that it was not a case for them to intervene. Chief Justice Datta added, “Sometimes we, too, have to draw a Lakshman Rekha and not intervene in every matter.”
The court said that the word is used in Marathi, Hindi and even Bengali as a synonym for orphan since ages. “We do not agree with the petitioner that the word refers to any social stigma. There is no need for a change at all,” the Chief Justice said.
The HC said that the sought change is meant to make it sound like the trust’s name. “This is not even a case where we ought to push ourselves to even ask the state,” the court said.