NEW DELHI: Amid growing clamour for changing the names of cities, a bill which seeks to rechristen the iconic high courts of Madras, Calcutta and Bombay has run into trouble and a fresh one has to be introduced in the Parliament to do the same.
The High Court (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 19, 2016 to change the names of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay High Courts to Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai High Courts, respectively.
However, the Tamil Nadu government has asked the Centre to rename the Madras High Court to ‘High Court of Tamil Nadu’ instead of ‘High Court of Chennai’ as proposed in the bill.
While the West Bengal government wants the Calcutta High Court to be renamed as Kolkata High Court, the high court has itself “not agreed for revised nomenclature”.
In a written reply in the Lok Sabha in December, 2016, Minister of State for Law P P Chaudhary had said the old bill would have to be revised and a new bill introduced.
“The central government has sought views from the state governments concerned and the respective high courts for finalising a fresh bill. No time frame can be fixed for finalising of the fresh bill and its introduction in Parliament,” he had said.
A senior Law Ministry functionary said “no forward movement” has been made in this regard and the fresh bill was unlikely to be brought in the Winter Session beginning December 11.
The Calcutta High Court has the distinction of being the first high court and one of the three chartered high courts to be set up in India, along with the high courts of Bombay and Madras. It was formally opened on July 1, 1862.
The ‘Indian High Court Act’ of 1861 vested in the Queen of England to issue letters patent to establish High Courts of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay.
The Bombay High Court was inaugurated on August 14, 1862. The high court today has three benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa.
The Bombay HC is one of the few institutions in Maharashtra that continues to carry the old name of the city. The state government renamed Bombay as Mumbai in 1995 and all institutions under it altered their names accordingly.
The Madras High Court, which came into being around the same time, has one bench in Madurai.
After Allahabad was renamed Prayagraj and Faizabad as Ayodhya, there have been multiple demands to rename cities, towns and districts. For instance, there are demands to rename Azamgarh district as Aryamgarh, Faizabad as Saket, Aligarh as Harigarh, and Muzaffarnagar as Laxminagar.