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PIL against names of Banks – Not a matter of Public Interest: Bombay High Court

Socio Legal Corp

Written by Vidisha Mathur

In the case of Onkar Sharma v Union of India and Another, the petitioner filed public interest litigation seeking to change the names of Punjab National Bank and Bank of Baroda, claiming them to be misleading. The petition was dismissed by the Bombay High Court last week.

The petitioner was the senior auditor at a Mumbai Branch of Punjab National Bank. He pleaded that Punjab National Bank and Bank of Baroda are nationalized banks, with some international dealings as well, and hence, regional names such as ‘Punjab’ and ‘Baroda’ should not be used, as it gives the impression that these banks are regional. He contended that such ‘misnomers’ created confusion, especially amongst those from remote areas, regarding the regional, national or international status.

The petitioner prayed that such names not be used for the banks of national status.

A bench constituted by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik dismissed the plea, stating that the case included any matter of public interest was so ever. The court was unable to identify how the negligent issue may have caused genuine harm or public injury that needed to be redressed. The petition did not meet the parameters set by the Supreme Court in the case State of Uttaranchal v Balwant Singh Chaufal and Others, to consider a PIL and hence, the petition was dismissed.

The bench also observed that the issue lay outside its jurisdiction and was a matter to be considered by the administration or competent authority of the bank itself. The petitioner was even unable to claim that the names of the banks had negatively affected the banks’ growth in any way either.

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