Centre Opposes in Delhi HC Plea to Replace Term ‘Central Government’ with ‘Union Government’

The Centre Friday opposed in the Delhi High Court a plea seeking to replace the term ‘Central government’ with the ‘Union’ or ‘Union government’, as intended by the Constitution in all its orders, notifications, and correspondences.

The Centre’s counsel argued that it was unnecessary litigation and the PIL should be dismissed as not maintainable.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula granted time to the Centre to respond to the petition filed by an 84-year-old man and listed it for further hearing on December 5.

The court was also informed that the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice has looked into the use of the expression Union of India’ in place of Central government’ and the matter is still pending.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeks a direction to the Union of India, through the Ministry of Law and Justice, to use the expression ‘Union’, ‘Union government’ or ‘Union of India’ instead of ‘Central government’, ‘Centre’ or any other similar reference.

In his petition filed through advocate Hemant Phalpher, Kolkata-resident Atmaram Saraogi said the term ‘Union government’ has a unifying effect on the relationship between the Union and all the states and would go a long way in defying the false impression that there is a centralisation of power in the Union government and would further depict the right message in that regard.

During the hearing, the high court said it cannot see any public interest in the plea and opined that there is no prohibition on using the term ‘Central government’.

To this, senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, representing the petitioner, said the Constitution of India has never used the word Central government’ and it always uses ‘Union government’.

“I cannot pitch my case any higher than the fact that the Constitution has not used the term (Central government) at all,” he contended.

On being asked by the bench as to where was the prohibition on use of the term ‘Central government’, the counsel said ‘Central government’ is not a legal entity even in a single case and Article 1 of the Constitution uses the term ‘Union’ and not ‘Central’ and Article 53 says executive powers of Union government.

The petitioner sought to strike down the definition of ‘Central government’ as defined under Section 3(8)(b) of the General Clauses Act, 1897 as being ultra vires to the Constitution.

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“Under our Constitution, India is a ‘Union of States’, and there cannot be any conceptualisation of a ‘Central government’ as existed under the British Raj. However, this archaic phraseology continues to be employed wholly contrary to our system of governance,” it said.

The plea sought to declare that the phrase ‘Central government’ used in all legislations be read down to mean ‘Union government’ or ‘Union of India’.

“The present PIL has only been filed by the petitioner being 84 years of age with a genuine concern to correct this continued error of usage of terms, which has the potential to denude the relationship and ties between the Union government and the State governments, thereby shake the very edifice of our Constitution,” the plea said.

The petitioner said he had given a representation to the Department of Legal Affairs to take appropriate action in this regard but since no action was taken, he filed the PIL in court.

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