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Will you name your pet after Hindu God or Muslim Prophet: Calcutta HC asks Bengal govt to give different names to lions Sita and Akbar

The court concluded, "Please avoid controversy, ask your officers to rename these animals. Reserve an uncontroversial name. Please don't name any animal after a Hindu God, Muslim prophet, Christians, noble laureates, freedom fighters, etc."

The Calcutta High Court, on 22nd February, asked the West Bengal government to rename the lioness known as ‘Sita’ and the lion called ‘Akbar’ which are housed in the same enclosure at Bengal Safari Park, reported Bar and Bench. The West Bengal government informed the Calcutta High Court on the same day that the Tripura Zoo administration had given the names to the two lions in 2016 and 2018 respectively, before the big cats were transferred to the Bengal Safari Park in Siliguri.

However, to ensure that any disagreement is settled, the administration should contemplate assigning new names to the pair, based on the decision by one-judge bench of Justice Saugata Bhattacharya. According to the Court, Akbar was a prosperous, capable, and secular Mughal emperor while Sita was revered by the vast majority of the nation.

The court asserted, “Mr Counsel, will you name your own pet after some Hindu God or Muslim Prophet? I think, if any one of us had been the authority, none of us would have named them Akbar and Sita. Can anyone of us think of naming an animal after Rabindranath Tagore? Sita is worshipped by a larger section of this country. I also oppose naming the lion after Akbar. He was an efficient, successful and secular Mughal Emperor.”

“You could have named it Bijli or something like that. But why give such names of Akbar and Sita,” the Court further questioned. The state administration was questioned by the court yesterday about whether it had named the two lions that were brought from Tripura to Siliguri’s Bengal Safari Park. The development transpired after Additional Advocate General (AAG) Debjyoti Choudhary remarked that the state hasn’t given the names to the lions. The AAG clarified that the identities were provided by the Tripura Zoo officials and not by the West Bengal administration when the case was brought up for hearing today.

AAG contended, “My lords, it was done by Tripura, not West Bengal. These animals were born in 2016 and 2018. Till 5 years no one challenged these names but once they came to West Bengal, they started this controversy.”

However, the court highlighted that it is unfavourable to name lions after religious figures or well-known historical persons. The judge observed, “I was thinking yesterday night whether an animal can be named after God, mythological character, hero, freedom fighter or even noble laureates? Can a lion be named after Swami Vivekananda or Ramkrishna Paramhans? Can this be done? Though we aren’t considering the issue, think about it. We aren’t talking about the names of the pet animals of an officer of the zoo department. But you are a welfare and a secular State why should you draw a controversy by naming a lion after Sita and Akbar.” 

AAG was also questioned about his pets and their names, to which he replied, “Toffy, Tuffle and Theo.” The judge then pointed out, “Isn’t this prudent naming? Otherwise next day it would appear in newspapers that Mr. AAG’s dogs’ names are after national heroes etc. Nobody can challenge such names. You being the AAG of this court, please set an example and ask your authorities to rename them.” 

The court concluded, “Please avoid controversy, ask your officers to rename these animals. Reserve an uncontroversial name. Please don’t name any animal after a Hindu God, Muslim prophet, Christians, noble laureates, freedom fighters, etc. Generally, who are revered and respected, their names shouldn’t be given.” 

The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) presented a case to the court on 16th February objecting to the naming of the lioness as Sita. In their plea, the Hindu group argued that it violated the religious rights of Hindus and wounded their religious feelings. Therefore, the VHP pleaded with the court that the name should be changed to any other common name. It was requested that the Court order Bengal Safari Park to take prompt action to rename the animal with a name unrelated to Hinduism.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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