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Govt Can Consider Changing Name To Bharat: SC

A petition was filed before the Supreme Court to change the name of India. The PIL was filed by an individual named Namah. In this plea, the petitioner had sought enforcement of the Fundamental Rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. He pointed out to the many pleas which have sought the same and the Government's inaction to do so, as justifying his reason to approach the apex court.

Earlier, In March 2016 also the Supreme Court had dismissed a similar petition seeking renaming of India. The Court in the past while declining the same had commented that "Do you think we have no other work except dealing with emotional issues?” and further stated that"Help the poor through the PIL jurisdiction. If you want to call it Bharat, do so. Nobody is stopping you".

The current petitioner, while speaking to ANI, had said that the country has several names like India, Republic of India, Bharat, Bharat Ganarajya, etc, and advocated that there should only be one name for a country. "There are different names on different documents. The Aadhar card says 'Bharat Sarkar', driving license says 'Union of India', 'Republic of India' on passports, creating confusion. There should be uniformity and one should know the name of the nation. This is the time for unity," he added.


In the petition filed on 4th March 2020 before the SC, it was prayed to change the name of our country from ‘India’ to ‘Bharat’. The petitioner has argued that The time is ripe to recognize the country by its original and authentic name i.e. BHARAT It was also argued that ‘India’ was derived from the Greek word ‘Indica and this amendment will ensure the citizens of this country to get over the colonial past. According to him, the English name India did not represent the culture and tradition of the country hence by renaming it to Bharat will instill a sense of pride in our own nationality as the history is filled with examples of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ being used. Petitioner has also claimed that Art.21 entitles every citizen the equal right to call his/her own country BHARAT. The plea said, “The removal of the English name though appears symbolic, will instill a sense of pride in our nationality, especially for the future generations."

Petitioner’s contention was that the Indian government has failed to do away with the name ‘India’ which is a symbol of Slavery. He claimed that India being replaced with BHARAT would justify hard-fought freedom by our ancestors. In furtherance of this claim petitioner also cited Constituent Assembly debates in which while debating Art. 1 assembly members favored for the name ‘Bharat, Bharat Varsha and Hindustan’ instead of India and argued that even at that time, there was a “strong wave” in favor of naming the country as Bharat or ‘Hindustan’. In his plea, he contended that “The nature of injury being caused to the public is the loss of identity and ethos as inheritors of the hard-won freedom from foreign rule,”


The Bench of Hon'ble The Chief Justice of India Mr. S.A. Bobde with Hon'ble Justice Mr. AS Bopanna and Hon'ble Justice Hrishikesh Roy today (3rd June 2020) while disposing of the above petition observed that The present petition is directed to be treated as a representation and may be considered by the appropriate Ministries. In the matter of Namah Vs. Union of India the three-judge bench in its order denying to interfere with the plea directed the petition to be treated as representation before the concerned ministry. The court during the hearing also commented while referring to Art.1 that Why have you come here? Constitution already calls India as Bharat”.

The bench when declined to pass any order in the matter, Advocate Ashwin Vaish, appearing for the Delhi-based petitioner urged it to be treated as representation before the government. The court while adjourning petition allowed the same through its order. According to the order the plea is converted into representation and forwarded to the Union government for appropriate decision. Now, the appropriate ministry can take up the matter to consider amending the country's name.


[1] ORDER: https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2020/4436/4436_2020_31_2_22411_Order_03-Jun-2020.pdf

[2] PETITION: https://images.assettype.com/barandbench/2020-06/04ca6bdd-9b0b-4d17-9a8a-995a1f368fde/Namah_vs_UOI__Name_change_from_India_to_Bharat_PIL_.pdf

[3] https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/india-is-already-called-bharat-in-constitution-sc-refuses-to-entertain-plea-for-name-change-allows-it-to-be-treated-as-representation

[4] https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/plea-to-change-india-as-bharat-sc-refuses-interference-157750


Jayant Upadhyay is a 4th Year student of BA.LLB course currently studying in K.L.E. Society’s law college, Bangalore. As he writes this post, Jayant is interning with us.

You can contact him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jayant-upadhyay-731856131/

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