The Kerala High Court has ordered that status quo be maintained for a month with respect to the Kochi Corporation’s decision to rename Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road as Sri Narayana Guru Road.
Justice N. Nagaresh issued the order recently on a writ petition filed by Lawrence Alex and three other residents along Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road.
According to the petitioners, the agenda of the Town Planning Committee meeting held on September 1, 2021 was to change the name of the road to Mahatma Ayyankali Road. However, the councillor of Ward No. 64 had expressed dissent to the proposal. As a result, the committee meeting held on September 6, 2021 decided to change the name to Sri Narayana Guru Road, besides deciding to rename Thammanam-Pullepadi Road as Mahatma Ayyankali Road and Stadium Link Road as Chavara Kuriakose Achen Road.
The counsel for the petitioners, Basil Mathew, contended that the proviso of Section 379 (1) of the Kerala Municipality Act 1994 mandated that before naming or renaming a public street vested in and maintained by a municipality, the opinion of the ward committees shall be taken into consideration. Neither the Act nor the Kerala Municipality (Procedure for Meeting of Council) Rules empowered a ward committee to direct a municipality to name/alter the name of a public street.
In fact, Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road was vested in and maintained by the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA). Hence, the Corporation had no authority under the law to change the name of the road. The civic body took the decision without seeking the opinion of the committees of wards 54, 63, 64, and 65. The opinion of the ward committee would have been the voice of people in the locality had they been given an opportunity, the counsel maintained.
The residents of the locality, including the petitioners, were affected by the decision. The petitioners also pointed out that address proofs, registered office addresses, marriage certificates, online maps, physical maps, and other official documents of individual residents, shops, and commercial establishments, hospitals/clinics, firms, revenue records, court records, and other government records as of now carried the name ‘Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road’. Any change of such name shall cause immense inconvenience and technical hardships to the public and the authorities, they contended.
The petitioners sought a directive to the Corporation to desist from changing the name of the Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road without the consent of the ward committees of wards 54, 63, 64, and 65.