A petitioner named V.P. Patil recently filed a Public Interest Litigation on May 28, 2020, in the Supreme Court on May 28, 2020, urging it to issue a writ, order or a direction of like nature against the Respondents to rename High Court of Bombay to High Court of Maharashtra in pursuance of Articles 14, 19, 21 and 29 of the Constitution of India.
His main contention was that when several States in the Country have High Courts named after the State, the State of Maharashtra is being denied the same.
The Petitioner has stated in his petition that he was filing the PIL invoking writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Art. 32 and not in the High Court under Art. 226 to maintain uniformity in the law laid down on the issue as the issue of renaming the High Court can effect several High Courts in different parts of the Country.
As a matter of fact, in 1861, the Indian High Court Act, 1861 was passed by the British Parliament for establishing High Courts in pre-independence India and the High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras was established in pursuance of Letters Patent issued by the Queen in terms of the Indian High Courts Act, 1861.
The petitioner claimed that the PIL was filed in Public Interest on behalf of a large number of people living and belonging to the State of Maharashtra who take immense pride in their Marathi culture and heritage and are seeking renaming of “High Court of Bombay” to “High Court of Maharashtra”. He also claimed that the sentiments/ grievances of the vast number of Maharashtrians, who could not approach or did not have means to approach the Apex Court were being represented through this petition.
He further stated that “expression of regional and geographical identity forms part of freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India and thus an expression of the word Maharashtra while referring to the High Court pertaining to the State amounts to the fundamental right of the Petitioner.”
He claimed that the “Expression” used under Article 19 of the Constitution of India includes within its ambit expression of “Identity” as well and thus protection is guaranteed also to cultural, social, and political identity.
Basing another argument on Article 21 of the Constitution of India, he claims in the petition that the right to life includes the right to live with dignity and to enjoy life with the identity one associates oneself with. Hence, the assertion of a Maharashtrian/Maratha is taking pride and associating dignity to the concept of Maratha/Maharashtra and thus usage of the word “Maharashtra” while referring to the Hon’ble High Court is yet another means to fructify the dignity of a Maharashtrian.
He also mentioned the fact that the Bombay Re-organization Act, 1960, under Section 88 empowers the appropriate Government to make such adaptations and modifications of the law, for facilitating the application of any law in relation to the State of Maharashtra. The Government of Maharashtra had issued Maharashtra Adaptation of Laws (State and Concurrent Subjects) Order, 1960, which came into effect on the 1st day of May 1960 and remains unchanged/ unmodified till date. Clause 4(1) of the said order substitutes the phrase “High Court of Bombay” to “High Court of Maharashtra”. But he claimed that it was not altered to date.
In the end, he claimed that the change of name is a fundamental right of the Citizens of Maharashtra and in absence of legislative step, the Apex Court could step in and fill the vacuum in law.