Delhi HC dismisses PIL to replace term ‘Central government’ with ‘Union government’

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a direction to replace the term ‘Central government’ with the ‘Union’ or ‘Union government’ in all orders, notifications, and correspondences, holding it was not a case that warranted a PIL.

The counsel for the petitioner contended that the term ‘Central government’ found no place in the Constitution of India and even a parliamentary committee favoured the usage of the phrase “Union government”.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan said the two terms can be used interchangeably and the issue was a “not a case for PIL”.

“What is there in this PIL? I don’t understand whether it is central government or Union government. It doesn’t matter how you address them…We have far more important matters. Dismissed,” the court said.

The bench, also comprising Justice Mini Pushkarna, said the committee had only made a recommendation and, apart from being referred to as the Supreme Court, the top court was also called the “apex court”.

“This is not a case for PIL. Words can be used interchangeably,” the court ruled.

An octogenarian Kolkata resident Atmaram Saraogi had moved the high court earlier this year seeking 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.

The petition said the term Union government’ has a unifying effect on the relationship of the Union and the states, and it will go a long way in defying the false impression that there is centralisation of power in the Union government. It will send out the right message, the petitioner contended.

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

“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,” the plea said.

“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.

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