By Dr. Abdul Ruff
Name changes have been going allover India ever since India got independence from Great Britain, trying best to Indian towns, streets, statues; among other historically important details look pure Indian and entirely regional looking.
Many countries like now Sri Lanka (earlier Ceylon) have change their names to more localized ones. Tamil Nadu in India has already changed the name of its capital from Madras to Chennai and but the move to change the name of Madras University and Madras high Court have remained unsuccessful so far due mainly to vehement opposition to change the traditional names.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is pressing to change the name of Madras High Court and pleads with the Central government to rename the Madras High Court as Tamil Nadu HC in keeping with new reality since there is no Madras today.
A resolution moved by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the state assembly urged the Modi Union government to make necessary amendment to the High Court’s (Altercation of Names) Bill 2016 to rename Madras High Court as Tamil Nadu High Court. While moving a resolution in this regard in the Assembly, Jayalalithaa argued this and said Tamil Nadu High Court would be more “appropriate”. She also pointed out that several other HCs in the country are named after the respective states. She also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to change the High Court’s Bill, 2016, to rename Madras High Court as Tamil Nadu High Court, and not the Chennai High Court which was suggested earlier.
After a detailed discussion, the Tamil Nadu Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to call upon the Government of India to move necessary amendments to the bill introduced in the Lok Sabha so as to rename the High Court of Madras as the High Court of Tamil Nadu for the reasons outlined in the resolution. “The text of Resolution passed unanimously in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly today is appended. I request the Government of India to take immediate further action on the basis of the Resolution,” Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said in her letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 1 August.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly, on 1 August, unanimously passed the special privilege motion to rename the Madras High Court as Tamil Nadu High Court. The Tamil Nadu government emphasized that the name Tamil Nadu High Court must be picked over the name Chennai High Court, as naming it the latter would be inappropriate.
The Tamil Nadu government emphasized that the name Tamil Nadu High Court must be picked over the name Chennai High Court, as naming it the latter would be inappropriate. The government’s argument for renaming Madras HC after the state, instead of Chennai only, is that the court’s jurisdiction extends to the entire state.
All opposition parties, including the DMK and Congress, welcomed the special privilege motion and supported the motion.
The government position is Madras High Court may not be renamed as Chennai High Court. Instead, it may be called the Tamil Nadu High Court. The government’s argument for renaming Madras HC after the state, instead of Chennai only, is that the court’s jurisdiction extends to the entire state beyond the Chennai city. Earlier Tamil Nadu was known as Madras state and hence High Court of Madras state was called Madras High Court. Now the state Tamil Nadu and hence the Court should reflect its jurisdiction to entire state, not just Chennai city. .
The National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre has recently introduced the High Court’s (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha to change the name of the Madras High Court to Chennai High Court.
Earlier this month, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved to introduce The High Court’s (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016 in the Monsoon session of the Parliament. The Bill prescribes the changing of names of Bombay High Court as Mumbai High Court, Madras High Court as Chennai High Court and Calcutta High Court as Kolkata High Court respectively. The three courts were named after the cities. After renaming of the three cities, there have been demands seeking change in names of the HCs also. However, in the absence of any law in this regard, a new law needs to be passed by the Parliament to make the prescribed changes effective.
The related Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 19 July with an aim to rename the High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. While the Bill suggested that Madras High Court be renamed Chennai High Court, the proposed change was debated in the state assembly in the wake of the public opposition to the move.
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said, “former Chief Minister C N Annadurai moved a resolution and it was passed by the assembly to change the name of Madras Presidency to Tamil Nadu. Following this, the state was renamed as Tamil Nadu from January 14, 1969.” She said the city’s name was changed from Madras to Chennai in 1996, but that hold for the city alone. “Madras high court was set up by the British, and an Act was passed in 1861 by Queen Victoria. But since then states have been divided and each high court in that state is called by the state’s name,” she said, adding that the court does not belong to the city alone, but to the entire state.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the 10,000 Indian workers stranded in Saudi Arabia will be evacuated soon, reported PTI. The Union minister said Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh will leave for the Gulf country at the earliest to oversee the evacuation process. The 10,000 Indian workers stranded in Saudi Arabia will be evacuated soon, says Sushma Swaraj. The external affairs minister informed Parliament that ration for 10 days has been distributed in all the five relief camps set up in the West Asian country. “Not one worker of ours will go hungry. This is my assurance to the country through Parliament… We will bring all of them back to India,” Swaraj said, adding that the National Democratic Alliance government was coordinating with the foreign and labor offices in Saudi Arabia regarding the plan.
The minister informed the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha members that the West Asian country’s laws do not have the provision for exit visas without no objection certificates from the employers. The people who had recruited the Indian workers in question have shut their factories and left the country. The Centre is in talks with its Saudi counterpart to get the visas so that the stranded workers can leave the country, she said. She also informed the Assembly that the Indian Consulate has distributed ration for 10 days in all five relief camps set up to help the stranded people. “I am personally monitoring the situation,” Swaraj said. On Twitter, she had said on Sunday that her ministry has asked the Indian embassy in Riyadh to provide free ration to the unemployed Indian workers.
Tamils expect similar approach by New Delhi with regard to Tamil fishermen who are taken to jails by Lankan navy off and on and who keep suffering in Lankan jails for fishing in their traditional zones. Indian government is expected to come out with a statement on the tensed issue. India needs to talk to Lankan government to sort out the issue earnestly. A credible and sustainable solution to the vexed problem is long overdue.
New Delhi cannot have two yardsticks to measure importance of Indians abroad keeping in mind the economic or political utility aspect of those working or living abroad. It is a fact that Indians working in Arab world are the source of fast growing Indian economy. But the fact remains that India has taken measures to “resettle” these 10000 Indians working from Saudi Arabia thanks to powerful NRI lobby. New Delhi considers Indians in Mideast and West Asia in terms of financial input from them and does not value the fishing of Indian Tamils in Katchatheevu being not a part of India’s growing economy.
That is an error. Though the fish Tamils bring from Katchatheevu help the fishing community in Rameswaram, it has its own part in Indian economy.
It is not enough that Sri Lankan High Commissioner is called by the foreign ministry as a mere formality and given some “counseling” but it has to act seriously by sending the foreign minister and foreign secretary to Colombo to sort out the issue so that peace prevails in Rameswaram. Unfortunately, even in Tamil Nadu the issue is being treated as that of just fishermen alone and there is not enough awareness or pretest statewide to support the cause of India. For Tamil Nadu government the problems the fishing community in Rameswaram has been facing should merit more attention than renaming of a court which is indeed an ordinary and routine matter.