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To ‘instill a sense of pride in our own Nationality’ was the sole purpose behind a plea filed by a Delhi- based man, Namah to replace the word ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’. The hearing was taken through a video- conferencing method on 3rd June, 2020 (Wednesday) with a bench headed by Chief Justice of India, S.A Bobde along with two other judges namely A.S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy.
The petitioner contended that the time is mature enough to recognize the country by manifesting its original and authentic name i.e., Bharat, especially when the cities have been renamed in accordance with Indian philosophies. The clear intention of the petitioner was to convey a patriotic sagacity in front of the Judiciary to realize them that every visible aspect of the country should preside with the values and ethics that has been a part from centuries. By naming the country with its official language, it would look more appropriate so as to give a vague idea to the people who belong from other countries. The plea had contended that the rationale of the amendment to Article 1 will ensure ‘the citizens of this country to get over the colonial past.’
Arguments made and legal provision of the plea
The petitioner, Namah, through his counsel argued that the name of the country, ‘India’ resides from a foreign origin and can be traced backwards to the Greek idiom ‘Indica’. In the words of the petitioner, the Amendment in Article 1 of the Constitution which provides that ‘India, that is, Bharat, shall be a Union of States….’, has been made under the delusional influence of modernization of the colonial rule and the reformation of the name to and Indian origin‘will ensure citizens of this country to get over the colonial past and instill a sense of pride in our nationality and will also justify the hard fought freedom by our freedom fighter.’
In reference to a 1948 Constituent Assembly debate on Article 1 of the then Model Constitution, the petitioner also asserted that even at that time, there was a ‘strong wave’ in favor of designating the country as ‘Bharat’ or ‘Hindustan’. Dr B R Ambedkar, who outlined the constitution, at that time, argued that the country was known throughout the whole world as ‘India’ and that should be preserved. Finally, a middle path was embraced and Article 1(1) of the Constitution declared both ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’. With this argument, the petitioner in query coveted just ‘Bharat’ to be retained.
After several minutes, another plea was made to substitute ‘Bombay’ in Bombay High Court with ‘Maharashtra’ and was filed by V P Patil, a retired judicial bureaucrat. As a response to the plea, he cited Clause 4(1) of Maharashtra (Adaptation of Laws-State and Concerned Subjects) Order, 1960, which surrogates ‘High Court of Bombay’ with ‘High Court of Maharashtra’. He contended that, ‘The word Maharashtra denotes special significance in life of citizens of Maharashtra and that its usage must also find expression in the name of the HC as an expression of culture and right to heritage as protected under Articles 19, 21 and 29 of the Constitution.’
Supreme Court’s judgment
The three judge bench refused to interfere in this plea by contending the same Article of the Constitution that the petitioner has raised in his argument and pointed out that the residing Article 1 already contains Indian origin name which is ‘Bharat’ along with ‘India’. Though any sort of amendments were refuted to be made by the Supreme Court as the bench was not convinced but has nonetheless asked the pertinent ministry to treat the writ petition as a representation to the Centre to initiate a call on it and further reflect its own contemplation. As for the second plea which concerned the replacement of ‘Bombay’ in Bombay High Court to ‘Maharashtra’, the court announced another notice to the Centre for a rejoinder on the subject matter.
Social impact of this plea
It is a valid articulation to point that since this petition was filed in a COVID-19 pandemic, it was unnecessary to take this issue on both the parts. The society within these conditions contains more intense and serious issues than deciding the mere name of the country. It is the fault of both the petitioner whose concentration can be put to a productive aspect and the Supreme Court who can give their assistance to a more societal contentions and decisions which can make the circumstances of those in danger better. Therefore, it is clearly pertinent to state that the societal needs cannot be fulfilled by this plea and the court needs to recognize the current issues that the minorities are facing and make developments and amendments in accordance with that.
Along with the dilemma from the side of B.R Ambedkar about the names ‘Bharat’ and ‘Hindustan’ at the time of the framing of the constitution which resulted in adopting ‘Bharat’ as well as ‘India’, another plea like this was taken in the year 2016 which as a result was dismissed by the Apex Court of Law.
The judgment was headed by the then Chief Justice of India, T.S. Thakur who orally remarked that every citizen of India has the right to choose between entitling his country ‘Bharat’ or ‘India’ and the Supreme Court had no business to neither dictate nor decide for any Indian as to how he should identify his country with.
As from the above analysis, it is clear that filing of this petition was an overall waste of time of both the sides that is the Supreme Court and Petitioner given the current state of the society and that this time could have been channelized in a productive way. Although as far as the petition is concerned, the precedent 2016 judgment has unambiguously dissolved every present contention of the petitioner by referring that the along with the Freedom of Speech and Expression provided to citizen to identify the country with their preferable name, the Constitution of India has mentioned both the origins of the name in both the languages. The matter which is further taken to the appropriate ministry should also conclude with this but only after when the state of the pandemic becomes negligible.
Author: Gayatri Sharma from JIMS, Schools of Law, Indraprastha University.
Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.