The Press Council of India has said that it disagreed with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s advisory banning the use of word ‘Dalit’ in media reporting. The media body said that it will not issue a blanket ban on the use of the word Dalit.
Justice (retd) C K Prasad, according to an Indian Express report, said that ‘absolute prohibition is not advisable’ not even ‘feasible.’ The PCI’s decision has come a day after the Council reportedly ratified it on Thursday, on the eve of the National Press Day, which is observed on 16 November every year.
Its advisory said, “The Council had in depth deliberations on the Order of Hon’ble High Court of Bombay, Nagpur Bench vide its Order dated 6.6.2018 regarding refraining of the word “Dalit” by the media. It opined that it is advisable not to issue direction/Order prohibiting the use of Word “Dalit” in all circumstances.”
In its order in September, the Centre’s I&B ministry had asked Indian media to refrain from using the word ‘Dalit’ in their news reporting. The I&B Ministry’s order had said, “Media should refrain from using the word Dalit while referring to the members belonging to the Schedule Caste community in compliance with the directions of the Bombay High Court and the constitutional term Schedule Caste in English and its appropriate translation in other regional languages should alone be used for all official transaction, matters dealing, certificates etc., for denoting the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes notified in the Presidential orders issued under Article 341 of the Constit-ution of India.”
The letter was issued to TV channels on 7 August, said one executive working in one of the news channels.
The Bombay High Court had recently asked the I&B ministry and the Press Council of India to issue directives to the media to avoid using the word ‘Dalit’ in their news coverage.
In March this year, the Centre had issued a similar directive for the central and state government staff. The directive had read, “The central government/state governments 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 or any statute.”