Renaming of Aurangabad, Osmanabad | Bombay High Court validates Maharashtra government’s notifications


A view of Bombay High Court, in Mumbai.

A view of Bombay High Court, in Mumbai.
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Bombay High Court on May 7 upheld the Maharashtra government’s notifications of renaming Aurangabad and revenue areas as Chatrapati Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv respectively.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Devendra Upadhyaya and Justice Arif S. Doctor stated that the government’s notifications for the name changes were not in violation of the constitution and “do not suffer from any illegality or any vice”.

Also read | Eknath Shinde cabinet approves renaming of Aurangabad, Osmanabad cities

A division Bench dismissed a batch of pleas challenging the State government’s notifications of the changed names. At least, 15 pleas, challenged the renaming of these cities as well as revenue areas (District, Sub-Division, Taluka, Villages).

The pleas opposing the renaming argued that the decision disregarded public sentiments and violated constitutional provisions. Moreover, they alleged that the name changes aimed to sow discord and political gain, particularly by stoking anti-Muslim sentiments. These petitions claimed that it was politically motivated and exacerbated religious tensions.

However, the Maharashtra government argued that the renaming was a matter of public sentiment and did not have religious connotations. In its affidavit opposing the pleas, the State government informed the court that the majority of the city’s residents celebrated the change from Osmanabad to Dharashiv and asserted that the renaming did not compromise secular values.

The initial petition was filed in August 2022, after Former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government during its last Cabinet meeting in June 2022. Later, in a fresh decision, the Mahayuti government added the prefix Chhatrapati and renamed Aurangabad, as Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs approved the renaming of Aurangabad and Osmanabad cities on February 24, 2023. However, the renaming process for the district and revenue authorities was ongoing. The State government published a draft notification on the same day, inviting objections from the general public.

The High Court disposed of petitions challenging the proposed renaming of revenue areas on August 30, 2023, as the new names were not formally notified. The formal notification for renaming revenue areas was issued on September 15, 2023, prompting new challenges. Thus, new pleas were filed challenging the new names of the revenue areas.

The Counsel Pranav Thackur, appearing for the Union of India, told The Hindu, “The demand of the State government and the reasons attributed by it for carrying out the change is examined in detail by the Ministry of Home Affairs. We obtain inputs from all concerned Central Agencies, including the Ministry of Science & Technology, Survey of India, Department of Posts and Ministry of Railways, and take a decision based on their inputs and issue no objection to the concerned State Government.”

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