Name Game: Bombay High Court Upholds Aurangabad, Osmanabad Renaming

The Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, rejected petitions contesting the State authorities’ decision to rename Aurangabad and Osmanabad as Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar and Dharashiv, respectively.

Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor affirmed that the renaming notifications were lawful, stating, “The notifications renaming the cities and revenue divisions are valid.”

The previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) administration, headed by Uddhav Thackeray, decided to rename Aurangabad and Osmanabad during a cabinet meeting on June 29, 2021. Aurangabad city and revenue division were renamed ‘Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar,’ while Osmanabad was renamed ‘Dharashiv.’

The current government, led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, reaffirmed this decision on July 16, 2022. Subsequently, several petitions were filed in the High Court by various individuals, including residents of the respective districts. These petitions argued that the state government had previously abandoned an attempt to rename Aurangabad in 2001.

However, the issue was revived by former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s administration for alleged political gain during his last cabinet meeting.

The petitioners argued that the renaming decision violated constitutional provisions. They contended that renaming Osmanabad to Dharashiv could provoke religious and communal tensions, undermining India’s secular principles. They highlighted a previous failed attempt by the Maharashtra government in 1998 to rename Osmanabad to Dharashiv.

In response, the Maharashtra government defended the name change, stating that it did not incite religious or communal discord but rather was celebrated by the majority. They refuted claims that the renaming was politically motivated to stoke hatred towards a particular community.

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About the Author: Payal Singh