'Why Name Lions Akbar, Sita?': High Court asks Bengal to Rename Big Cats

The Calcutta High Court asked the West Bengal government to rename the lion named 'Akbar' and the lioness named 'Sita' and questioned why they were given the names at all.
'Why Name Lions Akbar, Sita?': High Court asks Bengal to Rename Big Cats
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday asked the West Bengal government to rename the lion named 'Akbar' and the lioness named 'Sita' which are kept in the same enclosure at Bengal Safari Park, Bar and Bench reported.

The court asked the state government's lawyer whether he would name his own pet after a Hindu God or Muslim Prophet.

"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 High Court was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench.

The court was hearing a petition by the Bengal wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) which opposed the West Bengal government's decision to keep the two big cats together. The outfit demanded a change in the name of the lioness, contending that keeping the two animals together was disrespectful to Hindus.

The West Bengal government informed the court that the naming of the two lions was done by the Tripura Zoo authorities in 2016 and 2018 before their recent transfer to the Bengal Safari Park.

Additional Advocate General (AAG) Debjyoti Choudhary argued that the issue over their names only cropped up once the lions arrived in West Bengal.

However, on Thursday, Justice Bhattacharya said he thought over the issue overnight and wondered whether an animal should be named after a god, or a mythological character or freedom fighters.

"We aren't talking about the names of the pet animals of an officer of the zoo department. But you are a welfare and a secular State why should you draw a controversy by naming a lion after Sita and Akbar," the judge added.

The Calcutta High Court also observed that West Bengal is currently at the centre of several controversies and the current one over the names of lions is something which can be avoided.

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'Why Name Lions Akbar, Sita?': High Court asks Bengal to Rename Big Cats

Advocate Debjyoti Choudhary assured the court that the lions would be given new names but urged the court to dismiss the VHP's petition. The court ordered the Hindu group's plea be reclassified as a public interest litigation (PIL) and listed it before the bench which hears PILs.

Source: India Today

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