Changing the Name of a State

Context: The Kerala Assembly passed a resolution urging the Centre to rename the state as “Keralam” in the Constitution and all office records.

Arguments by Kerala Government to change the name 

  • The name of the State is Keralam in Malayalam language. 
  • The need to unite Kerala for the Malayalam-speaking communities has been strongly evident since the time of the national freedom struggle and even reflected in the linguistic reorganisation of the states.

Origin of the name 

  • The earliest epigraphic record that mentions Kerala is emperor Asoka’s Rock Edict II of 257 BC. The inscription refers to the local ruler as Keralaputra (Sanskrit for “son of Kerala”).
  • About ‘Keralam’, it is believed to have originated from ‘Cheram’.
  • The origin of the term Cheram could possibly be from the root ‘cher’, which means to join. This clears the meaning in the compound word ‘Cheralam’, in which alam means region or land.

Constitutional Provisions

According to constitution of India parliament has the power to change the name of a state under Article 3. 

Article 3 of the constitution 

Formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States:

Parliament may by law— 

  1. Form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State 
  2. Increase the area of any State 
  3. Diminish the area of any State 
  4. Alter the boundaries of any State
  5. Alter the name of any State

– Provided that no Bill for the purpose shall be introduced in either House of Parliament except on the recommendation of the President and unless, where the proposal contained in the Bill affects the area, boundaries or name of any of the States.

– Provided the Bill has been referred by the President to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views thereon within such period as may be specified in the reference or within such further period as the President may allow and the period so specified or allowed has expired.

– According to Article 4 which deals with Laws made under articles 2 and 3 to provide for the amendment of the First and the Fourth Schedules and supplemental, incidental and consequential matters provides that law made under Article 2 and 3 shall not be deemed to be an amendment of this Constitution for the purposes of article 368.

Procedure to change the name of a state 

  • A bill with the intent to change the name of the state can be presented in Parliament or State Legislative Assembly of the concerned state for such alterations. 
  • In Parliament, the bill cannot be presented without a recommendation from the President. 
  • The bill should be represented to the Legislative Assembly of the state concerned to present its views on the bill within the prescribed time period. This Consultative mechanism provided helps in maintaining the spirit of federalism
  • The views or suggestions of the State Legislature are not binding to the President or The Parliament. After receiving the suggestions of the State Legislative Assembly or after the expiration of the limited time period the bill goes back to Parliament. Then the bill gets further deliberated upon in Parliament.
  • The bill, like any ordinary bill, must be passed with a simple majority.
  • The bill is next sent for assent to the President.
  • After the approval is given by the President. The Act will be enforced, and the name of the state will be changed.

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