How A Mere Change Of Name To Prayagraj Affects Public Interest?: Allahabad HC Dismisses PILs [Read Judgment]
“Proposed change of name by the State Government, cannot be said to be without basis, and the same clearly reflects a policy decision of the State Government”
The Allahabad High Court dismissed public interest litigations filed challenging the renaming of Allahabad to Prayagraj observing that it is a policy decision of the State Government which cannot be said to be without basis.
There is also nothing on record to demonstrate as to how the larger public interest would be affected by a mere change of name, the division bench comprising of the Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Y.K. Srivastava said.
Apart from challenging the notification issued in this regard on the ground of procedural violations, the petitioners had contended that the move to rename the city is contrary to the secular ethos of the Constitution, and runs contrary to the spirit of our composite culture.In this context, the bench observed: "The social and cultural life in India as seen today is a result of centuries of cultural transactions and social negotiations which have embraced the entire sub-continent resulting in the development of a cultural mosaic which reflects the dynamism of a composite culture embedded in national identity. The contemporary Indian culture is seen as a manifestation of a continuous process of a synthesis, assimilation and acculturation."
The bench also observed that the PIL petitioners have not been able to place on record any material to demonstrate that the decision taken in this regard by the State Government is wholly unreasonable, arbitrary and is based on irrelevant considerations, or that the same is violative of any constitutional or statutory provision, so as to bring the same within the parameters of the limited scope of judicial review in such matters. The court also added that the powers to be exercised by the State Government while naming or altering the name of any revenue area, is purely an administrative power which is in the realm of a policy decision, and there are clearly circumscribed limits of judicial review of such administrative and policy decisions. The bench also observed:
"We are of the view that the extracts from the various literary and historical texts which have been placed on record by the petitioners themselves contain references of the site identified by the name of 'Prayag' at the confluence of rivers Ganga and Yamuna, as a major centre of culture and pilgrimage from the ancient times continuing through the medieval age and down to our times. The reference to the site by the said name has also been made in the travel accounts of foreign travellers. We may also take notice of the fact that the periodical congregation held at the confluence of rivers Ganga and Yamuna as a tradition continuing through centuries as per historical references represents a myriad cultural mosaic as a reflection of the composite Indian culture."
Though it dismissed the pleas, the bench made this parting observation: "We may observe that the dismissal of these petitions may not be understood so as to draw an inference that we have either endorsed the notification in question or have expressed any opinion with regard to the decision of the State Government in respect of the change of name"