Defending its decision to change the name of Aurangzeb Road in Central Delhi to Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Road, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) on Friday told the Delhi High Court that it had “unfettered right” to rename roads in its jurisdiction.
Appearing before the bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, who appeared for the NDMC, said the council was empowered to take decisions on numbering and naming of roads in its areas under Section 11 of the NDMC Act.
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“ASG to apprise the court on what is the procedure for changing the name,” said the bench while adding that it did “not see any public interest” in the petition filed by advocate Shahid Ali.
The advocate had filed the PIL, challenging the NDMC’s decision to change the name of Aurangzeb Road and rename it after India’s former president.
“We just want to know how you have done this,” said the court, which has now asked the NDMC to give details of the procedure by which the name was changed and whether any guidelines exist for changing names of roads, by September 22.
The ASG also said there were no restrictions on the NDMC’s authority and opposed Ali’s argument. Ali had said the central government had laid down guidelines in 1975, according to which names of existing roads cannot be changed.
“There is only an advisory, not a restriction,” said the ASG. He added that the “unanimous” decision was taken to “name the road after a contemporary public icon who the country worships”.
He informed the bench that names of roads have been changed earlier, like the renaming of Humayun Lane to Barda Ukil Lane.
The PIL had also alleged that the “act of altering the historical name was nothing but an outcome of sick and communal politics, which should not be allowed to have any place in India”.