Updated February 22nd, 2024 at 18:35 IST

'Don't Name Animals after Hindu God, Muslim Prophet…': Calcutta HC Urges Renaming Lions Sita & Akbar

During the hearing, the court said potential controversies could erupt from certain names and hence advised the state government to consider renaming the lions.

Reported by: Digital Desk
The controversy was initiated following a plea filed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), objecting to the name Sita being given to a lioness | Image:lionalert.org representative
Advertisement

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court was presented with a controversial issue on Thursday regarding the naming of two lions in Bengal Safari Park as Sita and Akbar,. The government of West Bengal informed the court that these names were given by the Tripura Zoo authorities back in 2016 and 2018 before the lions were transferred to Bengal Safari Park in Siliguri.

During the hearing, the court said potential controversies could erupt from certain names and hence advised the state government to reconsider the names and choose ones that would not provoke controversy. 

Advertisement

Lion Renaming Verdict: Avoid Controversy Recommends Calcutta HC 

"Please avoid controversy. Ask your officers to rename these animals ... Reserve an uncontroversial name. Please don't name any animal after a Hindu God, Muslim prophet, Christians, nobel laureates, freedom fighters, etc. Generally, who are revered and respected, their names shouldn't be given," the Court said as its concluding remark.

Advertisement

Justice Saugata Bhattacharya, a single-judge presiding over the case, urged the state to select alternative names for the lions to stop any further escalation that may arise from potential disputes.

The court added about the need to avoid naming animals after revered figures from various religions or historical backgrounds. It questioned the appropriateness of naming a lion after figures such as Sita, a revered deity in Sanatan Dharma, or Akbar, a Mughal Emperor.

Advertisement

The controversy was initiated following a plea filed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), objecting to the name Sita being given to a lioness, claiming it hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus and infringed on their right to religion. The VHP requested that the lioness's name be changed to a more common one not associated with Hinduism.

AAG Clarifies Names Originated from Tripura

The Additional Advocate General (AAG) clarified that the names were originally given by the Tripura Zoo authorities, not by West Bengal authorities. He provided documentation to support this assertion and added that the controversy only emerged once the lions were brought to West Bengal.

The court further questioned whether it was appropriate to name animals after religious deities, historical figures, or national heroes. It stressed the need for good judgement in naming animals to avoid unnecessary controversy.

Advertisement

"Mr. Counsel, will you yourself name your own pet after some Hindu God or Muslim Prophet ... I think if any one of us would have been the authority, none of us would have named them as Akbar and Sita. Can anyone of us think of naming an animal after Rabindranath Tagore? Sita is worshipped by a larger section of this country ... I also oppose naming the lion after Akbar. He was an efficient, successful, and secular Mughal Emperor," the Court said. The Calcutta HC in its remark also added,"You could have named it Bijli or something like that. But why to give such names of Akbar and Sita?.”

Lions, Sita and Akbar to be Renamed 

In response to the court's concerns, the AAG assured that new names would be given to the lions but requested the dismissal of the petition. However, the court decided to reclassify the plea as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) due to claims that it had hurt religious sentiments.

The court concluded the hearing by reiterating the importance of avoiding controversy and advising against naming animals after revered figures.

Advertisement

Published February 22nd, 2024 at 18:35 IST