No stigma attached to word ‘anaath’ (orphan), no need to change it: HC dismisses PIL


PTI, Sep 15, 2022, 3:29 PM IST

Image Courtesy: Live Law

Mumbai: There is no social stigma attached to the word ‘anaath’ that means orphan and hence there is no need to change it at all, the Bombay High Court said on Thursday while dismissing a public interest litigation (PIL). A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar was hearing the PIL filed by NGO Swanath Foundation seeking for the word ‘anaath’ to be changed to ‘swanath’.

The plea claimed that children who have lost their parents already face a vulnerable situation and the word ‘anaath’ reflects as a needy, helpless and deprived child. The word ‘swanath’ would mean a self-reliant and confident child.

The bench, however, said that this was not a case where the court ought to intervene. ”Sometimes we, too, must draw a ‘Lakshman Rekha’ and not intervene in every matter,” C J Datta said.

”The word ‘anaath’ is in use for ages. We do not agree with the petitioner that the word ‘anaath’ that is used to refer to those children who have lost their parents attaches to any social stigma. There is no need for a change at all,” the court said and dismissed the PIL.

The bench further noted that the petitioner wants the word to be changed to ‘Swanath’ which is the name of the NGO.

”What is the social stigma in the word ‘anaath’? The English word is orphan and across many languages like Hindi, Marathi, and Bengali the synonym is ‘anaath’. Who is the petitioner to now say to change the word? What does he know about linguistics?” the court asked.

The petitioner’s advocate Uday Warunjikar said a better word should be used while referring to such children. The bench, however, refused.

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