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Courts do not have the right to change the name of their respective court – Allahabad High Court

In the case of Asok Pande Vs UOI [PIL Civil No 14171 of 2020], Allahabad High Court while squashing the plea to rename the court as Prayagraj High Court or Uttar Pradesh High Court held that in constitutional democracy, all organs of the State, i.e. executive, legislature and judiciary, are required to act and performed their respective functions within the limits prescribed by the Constitution of India.

The State Government changed the name of city of Allahabad to Prayagraj on 16 October, 2018 and, in this backdrop this petition has been filed by an advocate.

The court briefly discussed the history of setting up this court. East India Company, which was incorporated by Charter of 1600, got amalgamated with English East India Company. In due course, the East India Company conquered vast territory and became the Ruler. The East India Company strengthened its hold on the native Indians. First major freedom movement exposed the vulnerability of the East India Company which led the Queen to issue a proclamation in the year 1858 and the British Parliament passed the Government of India Act, 1858. Consequently, the East India Company and its affairs were taken over by the British Government. The British Government wanted to establish judicial institutions for rendering better justice to alleviate the corrupt practice in the judicial system.

For the aforesaid purpose, the British Parliament passed ‘Indian High Courts Act, 1961’. Under this Act, provisions were made not only for the replacement of the Supreme Courts of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay and for the establishment of High Courts in their places, but also for the establishment of High Court by Letter Patent in any part of other Majesty’s territories, not already included in the jurisdiction of any other High Court.

The court further reflected that, “In 1864, the Secretary of State for India asked the Governor General in council ‘to take into your consideration the question of establishing High Court in the North Western Provinces and furnish me with your opinion on the subject at an early date as practicable. Four years later from the establishment of three High Courts in Presidency Towns, on 16th March, 1866, the High Court of Judicature for the North Western Provinces came into existence under Letters Patent, replacing the only Sudder Diwani Adalat and Nizamut Adalat. Letters Patent, as subsequently amended, are the present Charter of High Court of Judicature at Allahabad. Aforesaid Charter conferred jurisdiction upon newly formed High Court in respect of Civil, Criminal, Testamentary and Interstate as well as Matrimonial matters. First sitting of High Court took place at Agra in 1866, but in 1868 it was shifted to Allahabad.”

In 1902, new name to two Provinces was given i.e. ‘United Province of Agra and Oudh’. It became ‘Uttar Pradesh’ in1950 under United Provinces (Alteration of Name) Order, 1950. By Government of India Act, 1915-1919, the name of ‘High Court for the North Western Provinces’ was changed to ‘High Court of Judicature at Allahabad’. All the enactments have now been consolidated and repealed by the provisions of the Constitution of India which came into force on 26th January 1950.

Court held that, “With the aforesaid historical backdrop, it is evident that High Court of Allahabad was created by Royal Charter. Initially, it was called as ‘High Court of Judicature for North Western Provinces’ which had the area of aforesaid Province but Oudh was a different Province, not governed by North Western Provinces. ‘High Court of Judicature for North Western Provinces’ subsequently became ‘High Court of Judicature at Allahabad’.”

The court further re-iterated that, “Article 225 of the Constitution of India deals with the High Court, existing at the time of enacting the Constitution of India, which allowed the existing High Court to continue with respective powers as were exercising immediate before the commencement of the Constitution. Article 215 provides that there shall be a High Court for each State. Every High Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself.”

By the aforesaid provision the court interjected that, “By virtue of Article 372 until and unless the Parliament amends the amalgamation order, the name of the high court, which is ‘High Court of Judicature at Allahabad’ cannot be changed.”

High Court held that, “The Courts cannot direct the Legislature to enact a particular law and, therefore, this Court finds that the present writ petition is nothing but a ‘publicity stunt litigation’ which has been filed to get some publicity.”

 

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