NEW DELHI: The Centre has asked all ministries, departments and state governments to avoid using the words ‘Dalit’ and ‘Harijan’ when referring to people belonging to Scheduled Caste communities. The directive was issued by the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment on March 15, five days before the Supreme Court gave its verdict on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
In a letter to the chief secretaries of state governments and Union Territories, the ministry stated that they should use ‘Scheduled Caste’ and its translation in other languages for official communication. The letter refers to a January 15 order of the Madhya Pradesh High court which had asked the Centre and states to refrain from using the word ‘Dalit’.
The letter also mentions that the home ministry, on February 10, 1982, had sent a missive to states asking them to instruct the authorities issuing Scheduled Castes certificates to not to use the word ‘Harijan’.