Punjab SC body issues instructions to refrain from using ‘Dalit’ word

Commission chairperson Tejinder Kaur said the nomenclature 'Dalit' does not find mention in the Constitution or any statute.

Taking note of the use of the word ‘Dalit’ for Punjab’s new Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi by the media, the state’s Schedule Caste Commission Tuesday issued instructions against using the word for the members of the Scheduled Castes community.

Commission chairperson Tejinder Kaur said the nomenclature ‘Dalit’ does not find mention in the Constitution or any statute. Moreover, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment, of India has already directed chief secretaries of all the states and Union Territories regarding the same, she said in a statement.

She also referred to a 2018 order of the Madhya Pradesh High court that directed the central and state governments and their functionaries to refrain from using the nomenclature ‘Dalit’ for the members belonging to the SC and ST communities.

Kaur pointed out that the high court had sought to ban the use of the word because the same does not figure anywhere in the Constitution or any statute.

Kaur added that following the high court direction, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had also directed all the states and Union Territories to use the word “Scheduled Caste” instead of “Dalit” for the persons belonging to Schedule Castes.

Channi was sworn in as the Punjab chief minister on Monday.

Earlier, in a letter on September 13 to Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, Kaur had recommended to rename the villages, towns and other places, which are presently named after castes and not use derogatory names such as Chamarheri etc. besides refraining from using the word Harijan and Girijan in official functioning.

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