The petition was filed by the national coalition of Dalit rights groups.
The petition said that Dalit is a ‘self-chosen name, a positive identifier and a political identity’ of those at the receiving end of the caste system and the centuries-old practice of untouchability. It outlines how the use of the word began in the 19th century with its origins in the Sanskrit word ‘Dalita’ meaning broken and scattered and has over the years evolved as an anchor for the Dalit movement. “The word ‘Dalit’ is a very substantive part of the consciousness of this pan-Indian movement, and cannot be excised from it without causing great harm and damage to it,” it reads.
The petitioner, V A Ramesh Nathan, general secretary, National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) has stated in his petition that the I&B order is an attempt to erase the identity from public consciousness and is in violation of the right to freedom to form associations as guaranteed under Article 19(1) (c) and right to self-expression and self-determination under Article 19 and Article 21 of the Constitution.
The petition adds that the usage of term “Scheduled Caste” is for administrative ease but it is inadequate for describing the “rich history of the movement for equality and the self-assertion that is inherent to the word ‘Dalit’”.