Why call lions Akbar, Sita? Court questions choice of big cat names | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Why call lions Akbar, Sita? Court questions choice of big cat names

Feb 22, 2024 08:39 PM IST

Calcutta high court judge questions naming of lions Akbar and Sita, suggests controversial names be avoided, as VHP moves court over lioness named 'Sita'.

Kolkata: The curious case of a lion named Akbar, a lioness called Sita, and petitioners upset at such nomenclature for reasons related to faith took an interesting turn on Thursday with Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya of the Calcutta high court’s Jalpaiguri circuit bench saying his conscience doesn’t support such naming even as the state government told him that zoo authorities were anyway planning to rename the big cats that were acquired from Tripura.

Calcutta high court’s Jalpaiguri circuit bench. (Photo /Live Law)
Calcutta high court’s Jalpaiguri circuit bench. (Photo /Live Law)

The case has already received international attention and justice Bhattacharyya added his mite to it on Thursday.

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“My conscience, so far the naming is concerned is not with you. These names should be avoided and discontinued to avoid unnecessary controversy. Will you name a lion Samrat Ashok? It is not just Sita. I also do not support naming a lion as Akbar. He was a very efficient, successful and secular Mughal emperor,” he observed.

On Saturday the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) moved the Calcutta high court over the naming . The animals were brought to the North Bengal Wild Animals Park at Siliguri in north Bengal earlier this month.

Also Read: VHP moves Calcutta HC over lioness named ‘Sita’ at Siliguri zoo

“Who has given this name causing controversy? I was wondering whether any animal can be named after a God, a mythological hero, freedom fighter, or Nobel laureate. Can we name a lion after Swami Vivekananda or Ramkrishna? We are not considering the naming of a pet dog. Why should you draw controversy by naming a lion and a lioness Akbar and Sita?” the judge asked.

The state’s additional advocate general Joyjit Choudhury, however, informed the court that the animals were named by the Sepahijala Zoological Park in Tripura from where they were brought through an animal exchange program. The North Bengal Wild Animals Park authorities were planning to rename the animals, he added.

“My state didn’t invite such controversy. It was Tripura who named them. Tripura. We are thinking to rename them,” Choudhury told the court.

“This controversy should have bene avoided. These named should be shunned. Our state is suffering from various controversies – from controversies related to appointment of teachers and others,” the judge added referring to a corruption scandal being investigated by federal agencies.

The seven-year-old Asiatic lion and five-year-old Asiatic lioness were brought to the park from Tripura as a part of an animal exchange program along with other animals including two spectacled langurs, two leopard cats and four black bucks.

This is not the first time that animals in Indian zoos have been named after Indian Gods and Goddesses.

The Delhi Zoo, country’s only zoo directly under the union ministry of environment and forests, has a white tigress named Sita. A cheetah in Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh was named after Indian god of fire , Agni.

“Both the (Tripura and West Bengal) authorities are claiming that they have not named it. It is a matter of investigation. But even the bench stated that such a name could have been avoided and discontinued. Why create another controversy,” said Lakshman Bansal, VHP state secretary.

“Will you name a lion after a Hindu deity, a Muslim prophet or Christian god or freedom fighter or Nobel Laureate? Generally, anyone who is revered or respected by the people of our country?” the judge asked Choudhury.

But he then proceeded to reclassify the case as a public interest litigation or PIL, which means his bench will no longer be hearing the matter.

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