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‘India vs Bharat’ is not a matter of debate, Supreme Court already said both names can be used: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

The Assam CM said that nobody objected when Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita was presented in the parliament by Amit Shah

In what can be perceived as an attempt to end the debate on speculations that the official name of India will be changed to Bharat, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today said that there is no controversy on the issue. It is notable that the Assam CM was among those who had triggered the speculations and the subsequent debates on the issue with a cryptic tweet on 5 September.

Addressing the media in Guwahati today (6 September), Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the matter of using India or Bharat is not a matter of debate, and both names can be used interchangeably. He said that just a few days ago when Home Minister Amit Shah presented the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, which will replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860, nobody had objected to the name.

It is notable that on 11 August, three new bills, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 2023, and The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill 2023 were presented by the home minister. These laws will replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and the Evidence Act, 1872, and all 3 new laws have Hindi names with the word Bharat, not India.

Himanta Biswa Sarma also added that the Supreme Court has already settled the matter in 2016, when the apex court had said that both the names India and Bharat can be used. The court had delivered this verdict in response to a PIL seeking a direction that India be called ‘Bharat’ for all purposes. A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice U U Lalit had said, “Bharat or India? You want to call it Bharat, go right ahead. Someone wants to call it India, let him call it India.” The court was hearing a petition by Niranjan Bhatwal, a social activist from Maharashtra.

When a similar petition was filed in 2020, Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde dismissed it saying that “India is already called Bharat in the Constitution itself”. However, the court had said that petitioner can make a representation in front of the central government over the issue.

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma also said that several prime ministers in the past, including Dr. Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda, had taken oath of office using the name Bharat. He said that Indira Gandhi also took oath as the Pradhan Mantri of Bharat, not as Prime Minister of India.

Therefore, it is not a matter of debate, the CM said.

It is notable that whenever a union minister chose to take oath in Hindi, the name Bharat is used, while the name India is used for oaths taken in English.

The speculations of renaming the country had started after the Modi government announced a special session of parliament without announcing an agenda. Later the speculation was bolstered when the words ‘President of Bharat’ was used in an invitation for G20 Summit dinner sent by the president. Amid this, Himanta Biswa Sarma had tweeted, “REPUBLIC OF BHARAT – happy and proud that our civilisation is marching ahead boldly towards AMRIT KAAL,” reinforcing the speculations.

This had already created a massive debate with opposition parties opposing the move. But the comments by Assam CM seems to indicate that there is no plan to change the name of the country. Notably, it has already been reported that while the special session will start on 18th September in the old parliament house, it will be move to the new parliament house on 19th September on the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. The new parliament house was inaugurated in May this year by PM Modi, but the monsoon session was held in the old parliament as some finishing works at the new building were yet to be completed.

Therefore, the agenda of the special session could be starting business in the newly built parliament, and the agenda may not include changing the official name of the country.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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