Calcutta High Court Urges Renaming of Lions ‘Akbar’ and ‘Sita’ at Bengal Safari Park

LI Network

Published on: February 22, 2024 at 20:51 IST

Calcutta High Court has directed the West Bengal government to rename two lions, ‘Akbar’ and ‘Sita’, housed together at Bengal Safari Park. The court’s decision came in response to a petition filed by the Bengal wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which objected to the names of the lions on religious grounds.

During the hearing, Justice Saugata Bhattacharya questioned the state government’s counsel about the rationale behind naming the lions after figures of religious significance. He emphasized that while ‘Sita’ holds reverence among a large section of the population, ‘Akbar’ represents a secular Mughal Emperor.

The judge highlighted the need for sensitivity in naming animals, drawing parallels to naming pets after revered figures. He questioned whether any individual, including the counsel, would name their pets after Hindu gods or Muslim prophets.

The court’s direction follows a reevaluation of its stance, with Justice Bhattacharya expressing concerns over potential controversies and urging the state to avoid unnecessary disputes. Previously, the judge had indicated that the names might have been chosen out of affection, but upon reflection, he stressed the need to consider the implications of associating religious or historical figures with animals.

In response to the court’s directive, the West Bengal government assured that the lions would be given new names. However, the counsel representing the government requested the dismissal of the VHP’s petition, which the court reclassified as a public interest litigation (PIL) for further consideration.

The decision to rename the lions reflects the court’s commitment to upholding secular values and avoiding contentious issues that could potentially disrupt social harmony.

As the case progresses, the renaming of the lions is expected to mitigate religious tensions and promote a more inclusive environment at Bengal Safari Park.

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