The high courts of Bombay and Madras are set to undergo a change in their names.
Amid demands, the Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved a Law Ministry proposal to change the names of the two high courts through an Act of Parliament to correspond to the present names of the cities Mumbai and Chennai respectively.
There have been demands to rename the high courts as Mumbai High Court and Chennai High Court after the metros were rechristened in 1990s.
The proposal of the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry is to bring a bill — The High Courts (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016– to rename the two high courts established in 1860s under Indian High Court Act, 1861. But at present, there is no central law under which the proposal for change of names of these high courts can be addressed.
Briefing reporters on the decisions of the Union Cabinet, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the name of the Calcutta High Court too will be changed to Kolkata High Court. But an official released issued later mentioned only the Madras and the Bombay high courts.
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There have also been demands to rename the Calcutta High Court as the 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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Earlier, the government had planned to vest the President with powers to rename a high court in consultation with the Governor, the Chief Minister and the Chief Justice of that state. But the idea has been shelved. The government now plans to consider such demands of change in name on a case-by-case basis, sources said.
‘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 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.
The Madras High Court, which came into being around the same time, has one bench in Madurai.
Besides demands from Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu governments, various organisations too have been pressing for renaming the two high courts.