Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bombay high court refuses to give a surname to Laxmibai

A Pune resident recently approached the Bombay high court, protesting against the use of "Jhansiwali" at the end of Rani Laxmibai's name, etched on a statue in the heart of Pune; he sought to change it to "Newalkar", her supposed matrimonial surname.

But a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Ajay Gadkari refused to let the court be dragged into the controversy and rejected the plea. "We find that the petitioner wants this court to decide on the disputed question of what should be the surname of Maharani Lakshmibai, who died in 1858. In writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, this is not a fit case to go into the disputed questions of fact in relation to the issue of the correct surname of Rani Lakshmibai," said the court. "Writ jurisdiction is not a proper remedy to decide on the said issue. Therefore, we decline to entertain the petition. Other remedies, if any, available to the petitioner are kept open."

The petitioner Vivek Tambe, who claims to be a freelance journalist and an author of a book on Rani Laxmibai, said the Pune Municipal Corporation had mentioned the queen's surname on a statue as "Jhansiwali", which was wrong as after her marriage, it changed to "Newalkar". He further claimed though her adopted son, after the 1857 war, did change his surname to "Jhansiwali", there was no record of Rani Laxmibai ever using it. The municipal corporation said the statue was erected in 1957 and it did not have any records about the queen's surname.

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