India or Bharat?: Supreme Court seeks response from the Centre and States

India or Bharat?: Supreme Court seeks response from the Centre and States

A Supreme Court bench comprising of Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu and Justice A.K. Mishra has issued notice to the Centre and all the States, seeking their response on whether the Republic should be addressed as ‘India’ or ‘Bharat’.

A petition filed by Niranjan Bhatwal was heard by the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday. According to the petition, there is no historical evidence that our country was ever called India. After hearing this petition which prays for restraining the Government (Central and State), NGOs and even Corporates from using the name ‘India’ for any government or non-governmental purposes, the Supreme Court sought response from the Government.

The petition claims that, “The Mughal rulers never called the subcontinent India. The term 'India' was derived during the British rule”. 

The petitioner referred to the Constituent Assembly Debates in order to point out that the significant names that were suggested for our country were Bharat, Hindustan, Hind, Bharatbhumi or Bharatvarsh.

The petitioner also cited Article 1 of the Constitution, which says, "India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States", in order to state the term India was only for reference purposes and the real intention of the drafters was to call this nation Bharat. Article 1 (1) is the sole provision in the Constitution regarding the nomenclature of our country for all official and unofficial purposes.

“The country has one principal name, which is historically significant, that is ‘Bharat’. The first Article of the Constitution of India states that 'India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States', implicitly codifying ‘Bharat’ name for the Republic of India,” the petition contended.

In November last year, Bhatwal was asked by the Supreme Court to first approach the Centre, granting him liberty to come to the Court again if he is not satisfied with the Centre’s response. Read the LiveLaw story here.

 Bhatwal said he had been forced to approach the court again as there had been no positive response from the Centre nearly six months of making the representation.