'You Want to Keep the Country on the Boil?': SC Dismisses Ashwini Upadhyay's Plea on Renaming Cities

"Divide and rule policy of British brought about schism in our society ... Let us not bring that back. Do not drag a religion into this," Justice B.V. Nagarathna said.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court made some stern remarks while dismissing BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay’s plea on renaming cities and historical places which he claimed were named after “barbaric foreign invaders”.

A bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna said Upadhyay’s plea went against the principle of secularism enshrined in the Constitution. “We are secular and supposed to protect the Constitution. You are concerned about the past, and dig it up to place its burden on present generation. Each thing you do in this manner will create more disharmony,” the judges said, according to Bar and Bench.

Justice Joseph said Upadhyay was studying the past selectively and targeting only Muslim rulers. “You are relooking at the past selectively. India is today a secular country. Your fingers being pointed at a particular community, termed barbaric. Do you want to keep the country on the boil?” he said.

Hinduism, which Upadhyay is claiming to protect, does not allow for bigotry, the judges continued.

“Perhaps Hinduism is greatest religion in terms of metaphysics. Please do not belittle it. The world looks to us always. Even today. I can say, I am a Christian but am equally fond of Hinduism and have tried to study it. Try and understand its greatness. Do not use it for a particular purpose,” Justice Joseph said.

“That is why it a way of life, does not allow bigotry,” Justice Nagarathna added.

She continued that there were many unaddressed problems that India had, and those should be focused on: “Our country has so many problem to attend to … Hinduism is a way of life, because of that India has assimilated everybody. Because of that we are able to live together. Divide and rule policy of British brought about schism in our society … Let us not bring that back. Do not drag a religion into this.”

Upadhyay had claimed, according to LiveLaw, that historical places mentioned in the Vedas and Puranas had now been named after “foreign looters”. “We have roads after Lodhi, Ghazni, Ghori….there is no single road named after Pandavas, though Indraprastha was constructed by Yudhishtir….Faridabad named after person who looted the city,” he said.

Justice Joseph said that religious practices had nothing to do with the names of roads. Justice Nagarathna added that history cannot be changed just by renaming places. “It’s a historical fact. Can you wish away invasions from history? We have been invaded several times. Have we not got other problems in our country rather than wishing away for things which happened before?”

In his petition, Upadhyay had sought directions to the Union home ministry to form a Renaming Commission. “We are celebrating the 75th anniversary of independence but there are many ancient historical cultural religious places in the name of brutal foreign invaders, their servants and family members … successive governments have not taken steps to correct the barbaric act of invaders and the injury is continuing,” the now dismissed plea stated.