The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to intervene in a petition asking for the name India to be discarded in favour of “Bharat”. The apex court, however, said the Centre can treat it as a representation.
A Delhi-based businessman, Namaha, filed the petition calling for the country’s renaming into “Bharat” or “Hindustan” saying India symbolised “slave mentality”.
“We can’t do that. India is already called Bharat in Constitution,” Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said.
Justice Bobde, however, said the “particular petition is directed to be treated as representation by the appropriate ministries”, thereby granting liberty to the petitioner to make a representation to the government in this regard.
The petitioner’s argument was that the name “India” had not been derived from within the country; it is a name of Greek origin born from the word “Indica”.
Rechristening to Bharat will “help citizens of this country get over the colonial past”, the petition said, referring to the chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” being used throughout the nation’s history.
“The removal of the English name, though appears symbolic, will instill a sense of pride in our own nationality, especially for the future generations to come. In fact, the word India being replaced with Bharat would justify the hard-fought freedom by our ancestors,” it said.
The Supreme Court had dismissed a similar petition in 2016.
After the country’s independence, the constitution adopted two names, India and Bharat, after much debate.
British India was known as Hindustan, but some members of the constituent assembly opposed it. During the debates, BR Ambedkar, who drafted the constitution, argued that the country was known worldwide as India and that should be retained.
Finally, as a middle path, Article 1(1) of the constitution said: “India that is Bharat shall be a Union of the States”.
The latest petition wants just “Bharat” to be retained.