Supreme Court refuses to entertain plea against I&B Ministry advisory asking media not to use the term ‘Dalit’ to refer to members of Schedule Castes 

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] two-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna today, February 18, 2019 refused to entertain a petition challenging a circular dated August 7, 2018 issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to all private satellite TV channels asking them to “refrain from using the nomenclature Dalit” and, instead, use only the Constitutional term, “Scheduled Caste”.

The Court, has however, granted liberty to the petitioner to approach the concerned ministry i.e. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting with a representation against the said circular.

Appearing for the petitioner V A Ramesh Nathan and Thirumavalavan, Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, questioned the legality of the circular and said, “How can the Government of India issue such a circular questioning my identity”. However, his argument did not find favour from the Court, which proceeded to dismiss the PIL with a liberty to approach the said ministry.

The Bombay High Court on June 6, 2018 while hearing a PIL filed by one Pankaj Meshram had 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.

Pursuant to this direction of the Bombay High Court, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had issued the said circular/advisory to all media channels advising them to refrain from using the nomenclature “Dalit” while referring to members belonging to Scheduled Castes.