Blanket ban on use of term ‘Dalit’ by media not advisable: PCI

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NEW DELHI: The Press Council of India has decided against issuing a directive to the media prohibiting the use of the word “Dalit”, saying a blanket ban was neither advisable nor feasible.
In August, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had issued an advisory to all private satellite TV channels, urging them to refrain from using the nomenclature ‘Dalit’ for people belonging to Scheduled Castes in compliance with a Bombay High Court directive.
The Press Council of India (PCI), in its decision, that was made earlier but ratified during a meeting on Thursday, said it had an in-depth deliberation on the order of the Bombay High Court’s Nagpur bench.
“It (the Council) opined that it is advisable not to issue direction/orders prohibiting the use of the word ‘Dalit’ in all circumstances,” the order said.
PCI chairperson C K Prasad, while replying to a question on the issue of the use of the term ‘Dalit’ during a media interaction, noted that the Bombay High Court directed the I&B ministry to consider issuing such a directive.
“The order of the Bombay High Court was forwarded to us. The Council discussed that and has taken a decision that to prohibit the use of the word ‘Dalit’ in all circumstances will not be advisable.
Maybe in a given case the use of the term ‘Dalit’ may be necessary, and therefore we have said absolute prohibition is not feasible, it is not advisable,” he said. The court directive in June had come on a petition filed before the Nagpur bench of the high court.
In its advisory, the I&B advisory also cited a Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment circular of March 15, advising the central and state governments to use the term ‘Scheduled Caste’.
The use of the term ‘Dalit’ has to be judged on a case by case basis, Prasad said.
“We cannot have general guidelines that in no circumstances, the expression ‘Dalit’ can be used,” he added.
During the interaction on the eve of National Press Day, the PCI chief also talked about the paid news phenomenon and asserted that the council takes complaints related to it seriously.
However, he said, the benefit of the doubt always goes to the media.