The Supreme Court May 03, 2020 has refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation filed for changing the name of India to “Bharat”. The Court had allowed the petition to be treated as representation before the concerned Union ministries.
The matter was heard by full Bench of CJI S. A. Bobde and Justices A. S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy. The petition was filed by one Namaha on May 29, 2020.
When the Bench asked the petitioner's counsel as to why he had approached the Supreme Court since the Constitution itself says that India is also called Bharat. The Counsel for the petitioner had argued that the name 'India' was derived from the Greek word "Indica” and said that the change in name was sought to the exclusion of "India".
The Supreme Court on June 02, 2020, had adjourned to another day, without giving any date, a Public Interest Litigation seeking directions to the Centre Government to amend the Constitution and replace the word ‘India’ with 'Bharat' claiming it will "instill a sense of pride in our nationality."
The petitioner has claimed in his petition that this change of name will help the citizens of the country get over the colonial past and instill a sense of pride in their nationality.
The petitioner also argued that the time is ripe to recognize the country by its original and authentic name, Bharat, especially when the cities have been renamed in accordance with Indian ethos. NDA government has changed names of few cities like Gurgaon to Gurugram in 2016, Allahabad to Prayagraj in 2018, and New Raipur to Atal Nagar in 2018.
Clause 1 of Article 1 in the Constitution states that India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States. The plea, citing the 1948 Constituent Assembly debate on Article 1 of the then draft Constitution, argued that even at that time, there was a "strong wave" in favor of naming the country as Bharat or "Hindustan".
On 18th September 1949, Shri H. V. Kamath, member of the Constituent assembly had made very interesting observations (reported in Constituent Assembly Debates, Volume 9),
“It is customary among most peoples of the world to have what is called a Namakaran or a naming ceremony for the new-born. India as a Republic is going to be born very shortly and naturally there has been a movement in the country among many sections—almost all sections—of the people that this birth of the new Republic should be accompanied by a Namakaran ceremony as well. There are various suggestions put forward as to the proper name which should be given to this new baby of the Indian Republic. The prominent suggestions have been Bharat, Hindustan, Hind, and Bharatbhumi, or Bharatvarsh and names of that kind. At this stage, it would be desirable and perhaps profitable also to go into the question as to what name is best suited to this occasion of the birth of the new baby—the Indian Republic. Some say, why name the baby at all? India will suffice. Well and good. If there was no need for a Namakaran ceremony we could have continued India, but if we grant this point that there must be a new name to this baby, then of course the question arises as to what name should be given.
Now, those who argue for Bharat or Bharatvarsh or Bharatbhumi, take their stand on the fact that this is the most ancient name of this land. Historians and philologists have delved deep into this matter of the name of this country, especially the origin of this name Bharat. All of them are not agreed as to the genesis of this name Bharat. Some ascribe it to the son of Dushyant and Shakuntala who was also known as “Sarvadamana” or all-conqueror and who established his suzerainty and kingdom in this ancient land. After him, this land came to be known as Bharat. Another school of research scholar hold that Bharat dates back to Vedic. . ..”
"The removal of the English name, though appears symbolic, will instill a sense of pride in our nationality, especially for the future generations. aIn fact, replacing India with Bharat would justify the hard-fought freedom achieved by our ancestors," the plea further states.
"The nature of injury being caused to the public is the loss of identity and ethos as inheritors of the hard-won freedom from foreign rule," the plea further said.