Naming lioness, lion as ‘Sita’ and ‘Akbar’ should have been shunned, Cal HC verbally observes


PTI, Feb 22, 2024, 8:04 PM IST

The Jalpaiguri Circuit Bench of the Calcutta High Court on Thursday verbally observed that the naming of a lioness and lion as ”Sita” and ”Akbar” should have been shunned to avoid controversy.

The bench also suggested that the West Bengal Zoo Authority take a prudent decision by renaming them.

Hearing petitions by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s north Bengal unit and two other individuals, Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya asked whether an animal can be named after gods, mythological heroes, freedom fighters or Nobel laureates.

The Judge verbally said that such naming of the animals should have been shunned to avoid controversy.

Stating that West Bengal is already burdened with several controversies starting from school jobs appointments to several other issues, he said ”Therefore, take a prudent decision, avoid this controversy.” Maintaining that this would not be reflected in the order, the Judge suggested to the state’s lawyer that he use his good office and ask the zoo authorities to give different names to the lion and the lioness to avoid controversy.

The court said that India is a secular country and every community has the right to pursue or follow their own religion.

The Judge asked, ”Why should you draw controversy by naming a lioness and a lion after Sita and Akbar?” He said that Sita is worshipped by a large section of citizens, while Akbar ”was a very successful and secular Mughal emperor.” He asked whether a lion could be named after Swami Vivekananda or Ramakrishna Paramahansa.

Justice Bhattacharya said he has no support in the naming of both animals.

The VHP filed the petition claiming that a lioness transferred to Bengal Safari Park in Siliguri from Tripura was named “Sita” and prayed that the name be changed.

Two lions were brought from Tripura’s Sepahijala Zoological Park on February 12. The lion was named “Akbar”, the VHP said.

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