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'Don't dig up past, history can't haunt present generation,' SC while dismissing plea on renaming roads, places

By LawStreet News Network      27 February, 2023 09:16 PM      0 Comments
'Don't dig up past, history can't haunt present generation,' SC while dismissing plea on renaming roads, places

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a plea to direct the Union government to appoint a renaming commission in order to reconsider the names of cities and places rechristened after barbaric foreign invaders, saying the history can't be dug up to haunt the present generation or to create disharmony in the country.

A bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna dismissed the PIL filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay and rejected his plea to withdraw the petition even as he continued to assert there was not a single place in Delhi --- earlier known as 'Indraprasth' --- after characters of 'Mahabharat'.

"India is a secular country, this is a secular forum. We are supposed to protect Constitution and all sections. You want to re-agitate things which should be buried and not create disaffection," the bench told Upadhyay.

The top court also pulled up the petitioner for "naming" a particular community in his PIL, saying "Don't dig up the past which will only create disharmony. We can't have the country on the boil."

"Hinduism is a way of live not just a religion. We have assimilated all cultures. Let's not break it up by such kind of petitions. Have the country in mind not just religion," the bench further told him.

"Hinduism is a way of life and there is no bigotry in it. You or this court should not become instrument to create havoc," the bench said.

The court said all sections of society have to live together here.

"History of India can't haunt the present and future generations. The present generation can be prisoner of past," the bench added.

The petitioner sough a direction to the Union Home Ministry to set up a “renaming commission” to find out original names of ancient historical cultural religious places, called after "foreign invaders".

The plea contended that this was necessary in order to maintain sovereignty and to secure ‘right to dignity, right to religion and right to culture’ guaranteed under Articles 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution.

On January 29, 2023, the Mughal Garden at Rashtrapati Bhawan was renamed as 'Amrit Udyan', "but government did nothing to rename the roads named after invaders like Babur Road, Humayun Road, Akbar Road, Jahangir Road, Shahjahan Road, Bahadur Shah Road, Sher Shah Road, Aurangzeb Road, Tughlak Road, Safdarjung Road, Najaf Khan Road, Jauhar Road, Lodhi Road, Chelmsford Road and Hailey Road etc, the plea said.

While giving examples of names of hundreds of such cities, and places, the petitioner also sought a direction to the Archaeological Survey of India to research and publish the initial names of ancient historical cultural religious places, for securing ‘right to know’ to the citizens under Article 19 of the Constitution.

The court also refused to leave open the seven questions of law raised by the petitioner in his PIL.

Questions of law:

1. Whether continuing the names of ancient historical cultural religious places, in the names of barbaric invaders is against the Sovereignty?

2. Whether Centre and States are obligated to restore the names of ancient historical cultural religious places in their original names to secure Right to Dignity guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution?

3. Whether the relief claimed for restoration of names of ancient historical cultural religious places, which were changed during foreign rule, relates to Unity and Integrity of the Nation, ene the laudable objective sought to be achieved in the Preamble of the Constitution of India?

4. Whether Right to profess, practice and propagate religion, is intimately connected with the names of religious places and therefore the changes made during foreign rule must be restored to enable the citizens to freely Profess, Practice and Propagate Religion guaranteed Article 25?

5. Whether the names of places prevalent during Ramayana and Mahabharata Period were arbitrarily and illegally changed during foreign rule, ought to be restored so as to protect the Right to Conserve the Ancient Culture, guaranteed under Article 29 of the Constitution of India?

6. Whether restoration of the names of the ancient historical cultural religious places, is connected with Right to Identity guaranteed under Article 21?

7. Whether Right to Know guaranteed under Article 19 includes the right to know Original Names of the ancient historical cultural religious places?

During the hearing, the court also questioned Upadhyay for stating that there are thousands of roads named after Muslims. "What do you want to achieve," the court asked him.

Upadhyay replied that this issue is related to right to restore the original names.

The court asked Upadhyay which fundamental right of him was being violated.

"Dignity, culture, right to religion, right to know," he replied.

Upadhyay also said a similar matter has been referred to three judges. He cited and gave examples of Ramayana era names changed after invaders.

Upadhyay asked if names of cities should be after those who looted and destroyed the places due to whom our mothers committed suicides. He gave examples of names of roads etc in Delhi that do not reflect Lord Krishna's 'Maharashtra'.

The court, on this, said that this is a completely different issue.

The names of roads has got nothing to do with places of religious worship.

"That is a fact of history can you wish it away. Yes we have been ruled by foreign invaders. We have been invaded several times and history has taken its part. What are you trying to achieve? Have we not heard other problems in our country. Should we not move ahead instead of back," the court asked.

The court asked the petitioner not to relook at the past selectively.

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