Sunday, January 18, 2015

Central government preps bill to rename Bombay, Madras High Courts

Two of the three iconic high courts of India – the Bombay High Court and the Madras High Court – are slated for renaming as the central government is preparing a bill to initiate the process of renaming the two high courts through an Act of Parliament.

According to sources familiar with the matter, the Law Ministry has already initiated the process of forming a bill to rename Bombay and Madras high courts to correspond to the present names of the cities.

The move comes as a part of complying with demands to rename the high courts as Mumbai High Court and Chennai High Court after the metros were rechristened in the 1990s. State governments and various organisations have been pressing for a name change for quite a few years now.

The ‘Indian High Court Act’ of 1861, vested in the Queen of England to issue letters patent to establish high courts of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. The Bombay High Court was inaugurated on August 14, 1862. The Madras High Court also came into being around the same time.

The Bombay high court today has three benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa. Bombay HC is one of a few institutions in Maharashtra that continue to carry the old name of the city.

The state government renamed Bombay as Mumbai in 1995 and all institutions under it altered names accordingly; however, because matters related to courts are within control of central government, the name of the high court still remains unchanged.

There have also been demands to rename the Calcutta High Court as Kolkata High Court. The Calcutta High Court has the distinction of being the first high court and one of the three chartered high courts to be set up in India, along with the high courts of Bombay, Madras. It was formally opened on July 1, 1862.

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