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HC questions civic body over renaming Aurangzeb

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The Delhi High Court on Friday asked New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to apprise it on what basis it decided to change the name of Aurangzeb Road to A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Road in the late former president’s honour.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath asked NDMC to file its response by September 22 while hearing a PIL seeking to restrain NDMC from issuing a notification regarding changing of the name.

“We need information on what basis you (NDMC) decided to change the name. Apprise the court the procedure you followed,” the bench asked the council.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for NDMC, told the court that public notice has been given to rename the road after a “contemporaneous public icon who the country worships”.

The PIL filed by advocate Shahid Ali said the decision to change the name “lacks understanding of history” and the decision was against the notification of 1975 as per which names which are part of history will not be altered.

The court also questioned the petitioner for raising controversy on the issue.

The ASG said: “It was just an advisory to the effect that already named roads will not be renamed. This road comes under the domain of NDMC giving unfettered power to NDMC to rename the road. We have given public notice to rename the road after a contemporaneous public icon who the country worships. What’s wrong with that?”

It was not the first time that any road has been renamed in the city, and the name of Humayun Road was also changed, the ASG added.

The plea has said that NDMC’s move to change a historical name was bound to “adversely affect the image of India as a secular and justice-imparting country”.
The plea said the “act of altering the historical name is nothing but an outcome of sick and communal politics”.

On August 28, the request to change the name of the road, made by BJP MPs Mahesh Giri and Meenakshi Lekhi and the trade wing secretary of the state’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party was accepted by the NDMC.

“The NDMC in utter violation of law and procedure, instead of naming a new road in memory of late A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has renamed an historical road known as Aurangzeb Road to be known as A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Road,” the plea said.

It said the guidelines for naming/renaming of roads, streets, villages, towns and installation of statues/memorials to be followed by state names authority, Delhi, provide that the name of existing streets, and roads will normally not be changed and only new streets and roads will be considered for being named after eminent personalities.

“Names which are part of history will not be altered. All proposals for renaming will be referred to the ministry of home affairs in accordance with instructions in letter dated September 27, 1975,” it further stated.