Supreme Court Sends Notice To UP Govt Over Renaming Allahabad To Prayagraj
The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Yogi Adityanath government on a plea filed by a petitioner challenging the validity of the 2018 order which changed the name of the city Allahabad to Prayagraj.
A Supreme Court bench issued a notice seeking an explanation from the state government, following a plea filed by the Allahabad Heritage Society and some residents of Allahabad. The Allahabad High Court had earlier rejected their writ petition on the same.
This Special Leave Petition raises "substantial questions of law of general public importance" in accordance with the power of the Union and the State government to change the names of places with historical significance or within the purview of the right to culture under the Indian Constitution.
The government had claimed that Prayag was one of the 14 religious places in the ancient texts and the only one whose name was changed to 'Allahabad.' The announcement and effect of the change of name took place almost immediately when the process to carry out changes and the approval from the Centre were still outstanding.
The petition questions the state government's authority to change the name without citing any administrative reasons. It further stated that changing the names of railway stations, central universities and other institutes are controlled by the central government.
The Controversial Name Change
In 2018, the state government had officially changed the name of the Allahabad district to Prayagraj and said that a few other institutes named after the district would soon be changed.
The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting which followed the proposal made by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Government spokesperson and Cabinet minister Sidhartha Nath Singh had said that the name change was a longstanding demand of the people.
"There are some central institutes, organisations named after Allahabad… There is the high court, railway station… letters would be sent to them for the same and to take the process forward," said Singh.
The Yogi government had justified the move saying that the "BJP government has rectified" the mistake made by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, 500 years ago. It further added that the renaming was a "long-standing demand" of the people.
It has been contended that the move to rename the city is against the secular principle of the Indian Constitution and runs against the spirit of multiculturalism.
The opposition parties had criticised the government's move to rename the city. The Congress had said the move would be akin to changing history, as Allahabad had played a crucial role during the independence.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had slammed the Yogi government saying that the "present dispensation" wanted to show their work with "renaming" and such actions tantamounts to toying with tradition and belief.