No Kolkata, Say Calcutta High Court Judges, Rejecting Name Change

Calcutta High Court judges have rejected the Centre's decision to change the name to Kolkata

Kolkata: Calcutta High Court judges have rejected the Centre's decision to change the name of their place of work to Kolkata High Court.  

On July 5, the Cabinet said Calcutta, Bombay and Madras High Courts would be renamed Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. On July 11, the judges met, arrived on consensus to stick to the original names, and conveyed this to the Law Ministry. Most lawyers are with the judges.

"This (Calcutta) is the first high court in India, there is a sentiment attached. Also, worldwide, in shipping, banking and other commercial businesses, it is only known as Calcutta High Court. Changing it would mean changing to Kolkata worldwide," said, RK Khanna, president Incorporated Law Society of Calcutta (ILSC).

The High Court has been Calcutta for more than 150 years, always called Kolkata by the Bengali population.

So the anomaly in the signboards outside the courts continues. In Bengali, it was written Kolkata High Court but in English, Calcutta. This is now a point of contention. The Centre says Kolkata but the judges here say Calcutta.

On July 11, just before the full bench was to meet to discuss the issue, 108-years-old ILSC with 450 members, wrote to the Chief Justice of India voicing its opposition to the name change.

On July14, the registrar's general of the High Court wrote back to ILSC, saying all the judges had "unanimously declined" to accept the name change and accordingly informed the Ministry of Law and Justice.

"We will do everything possible to retain name. If that requires recourse to legal proceeding, we will surely examine that," said Paritosh Sinha, secretary, ILSC.

So the debate may land in Supreme Court unless the President sends back the bill.  "Now everything rests with the President of India," Mr Sinha said.

The two other bodies associated with the High Court that are yet to officially state their position - the Bar Association and the Bar Library.