According to sources, the Kerala High Court has held that an association of private citizens formed with the objective of promoting any sports/games cannot be prevented from using ‘Kerala’ or ‘Bharat’ or ‘India’ under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 in its name. The Act banned only the naming of commercial entities after India, Bharat or Kerala.
The Court made the observations while allowing a writ petition filed by the Kerala Deaf Cricket Association against the refusal by the Registration Department to register the association because of prefixing of 'Kerala' before the association's name.
The Department contended that no society with the word ‘Kerala’ could be registered in view of the the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act of 1950 and that further, there was no provision to name a non-Governmental organisation with the name of any State or nation as the same might be misunderstood or interpreted as a governmental organisation.
Justice N. Nagaresh observed on this, that the Act banned only the naming of commercial entities after India, Bharat or Kerala.
The Court said that it is the citizen's prerogative to name a person, institution or entity and a matter of the identity of the citizen or of an entity created by him.
"It is an inalienable right of the citizen. A democratic state cannot prevent its citizens from using with pride the names of their country or state and that too when the names were in existence and used without any restrictions even before the enactment of the Constitution itself," held the Court.
It also pointed out that the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 was enacted to prevent the improper use of certain emblems and names for professional and commercial purposes.
The scheme of the Act would manifest that it was "intended to curb the menace of exploitation of citizens by naming commercial entities in such a manner that the general public would be led to believe that a private commercial entity is one which has the official patronage of the Central or State Government. The Act, 1950 is rather intended to protect the common man than to assert the authority of the State," it said.
Justice Nagresh thus held that since the association was not one related to any trade, business, calling or profession, the provisions of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 could not be applied to the petitioner and proceeded to order that the application submitted by the association be considered without regard to the provisions contained in the Act, 1950.
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