Bombay High Court Upholds Renaming Of Aurangabad, Osmanabad To Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar & Dharashiv

Bombay High Court Upholds Renaming Of Aurangabad, Osmanabad To Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar & Dharashiv

The court noted that there was “no illegality” in the state notifications remaining the places while dismissing the petitions terming them as “bereft of merit”. A batch of public interest litigation petitions were filed challenging the renaming of Aurangabad and Osmanabad.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, May 08, 2024, 10:21 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

Mumbai: While upholding the renaming of the district and cities of Aurangabad and Osmanabad to Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar and Dharashiv respectively, the Bombay High Court on Monday asked, quoting Shakespere’s Romeo and Juliet, ““What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” It said this sentiment resonated throughout the hearing of the pleas.

The court noted that there was “no illegality” in the state notifications remaining the places while dismissing the petitions terming them as “bereft of merit”. A batch of public interest litigation petitions were filed challenging the renaming of Aurangabad and Osmanabad.

“We have no hesitation to conclude that the Notifications issued by the State Government (renaming)… do not suffer from any illegality or any other legal vice and thus, no interference in the impugned Notifications is warranted. The petitions, being bereft of any merit, are hereby dismissed,” a bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor said.

The 76-page judgment authored by the Chief Justice said that Shakespeare made a profound observation on the nature of names, that a name does not change anything, and that calling a rose something different would not change the “essence of the flower”. “However, the Petitioners disagree with what Shakespeare says through Juliet in his famous tragedy,” the judgment added.

The bench noted that once objections and suggestions were considered to the draft notification to change the names of cities, it did not have any reason to disbelieve that due consideration was not given before issuing a final notification.

The bench said that the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code permits the State government to abolish any revenue area and to name/rename and alter the name of the area. The government had followed the statutory provisions before taking the decision to rename the districts and cities, the bench concluded.

The bench added that if an authority is empowered under the statutory provision to name a revenue area, there was no reason to deny such power to the same authority for altering or changing its name. “As to by what name a particular object is to be known cannot be judicially reviewed unless the name so proposed is atrocious,” the bench said.

In 2022, the Maharashtra cabinet headed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde approved the name of Aurangabad as Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv. A Government Resolution was passed by the two-member cabinet for changing names on July 16, 2022 and then forwarded to the central government.

The Union Home Ministry gave a no objection letter for changing the names of the cities and districts in February 2023. Subsequently, a gazette notification was issued by the state government changing the names of Aurangabad and Osmanabad. Several petitions were then filed by residents of Aurangabad and Osmanabad challenging the names of their respective places. The petitions termed the government's decision as “politically motivated”. It added that the Constitution had given the nation a “secular fabric”, and renaming of cities, districts, divisions, subdivisions, talukas, and villages having Muslim names is “arbitrary”.

Lawyers for the petitioners – senior advocates Yusuf Muchhala, Anil Anturkar, and advocates SS Kazi, Satish Talekar, Madhavi Ayyappan – submitted that the State authorities only created/made a show or invited objections and suggestions. They did not want to consider the objections and suggestions from the people at large and wanted to foist their decision on the people. State advocate General Birendra Saraf opposed the pleas claiming the two places were renamed due to their history and not for any political reasons.

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