Row over Prez G20 invite: Citizens free to call India or Bharat, SC had said while dismissing PIL in 2016

The citizens are free to call the country India or Bharat as per their wishes, the Supreme Court had said in 2016 while dismissing a PIL which sought a direction that India be called Bharat’ for all purposes.

The apex court’s summary dismissal of the PIL becomes relevant in view of a massive nation-wide debate which got triggered following the G20 dinner invitation from President Droupadi Murmu describing her position as ‘President of Bharat’.

“Bharat or India? You want to call it Bharat, go right ahead. Someone wants to call it India, let him call it India,” a bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice U U Lalit, both retired, had observed while trashing the PIL filed by Niranjan Bhatwal from Maharashtra.

The Centre, facing opposition criticism over the G20 invite, had told the top court in November 2015 that the country does not have to be called Bharat’ instead of India’.

It had said, “There is no change in circumstances to consider any change in Article 1 of the Constitution of India.”

Article 1(1) of the Constitution says, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”

Opposing the PIL, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had said issues regarding the country’s name were deliberated upon extensively by the Constituent Assembly during the drafting of the Constitution and clauses in Article 1 were adopted unanimously.

It had said there was no change in circumstances since the Constituent Assembly debated the issue to warrant a review.

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The Supreme Court had also taken strong exception to the petitioner and asked him whether he thinks it has nothing else to do, and reminded him that public interest litigations are meant for poor.

“The PIL is for poor people. You think we have nothing else to do,” the bench had said on March 11, 2016.

The petition had also sought a direction to NGOs and corporates that they use the term Bharat for all official and unofficial purposes.

The PIL had said the prominent suggestions before the Constituent Assembly for naming the country were “Bharat, Hindustan, Hind and Bharatbhumi or Bharatvarsh and names of that kind”.

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