The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the central government to frame a policy to name and rename airports in the country, Bar and Bench reported.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni were hearing a public interest litigation filed by lawyer Filji Frederick, seeking directions to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Maharashtra government to formulate a policy, procedure and framework to name airports.

“Let there be a policy in place,” the court told Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh. “If it is a draft, then finalise it. If there is no policy, if it is still at draft stage, you have new set of ministers, let this be the work of the new aviation ministry.”

The court’s directions came on the same day when newly-inducted Union Cabinet Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia took charge of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. His predecessor Hardeep Singh Puri took over the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas after a Cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday.

During Friday’s hearing, the lawyer told the court that “a controversy brews among political and regional circles with respect to naming” without a nationwide policy. The judges said the Centre must come up with a policy at the earliest.

The High Court highlighted that a massive rally was held in June in which thousands of people demanded the renaming of an airport in Mumbai amid the coronavirus pandemic. “We took the state government to task, because the rally had 25,000 people and there was violation of Covid protocol,” the bench said.

The protestors had threatened to stop construction work if the Navi Mumbai airport is not named after late socialist leader DB Patil by August 15, The Indian Express reported. Last month, the Maharashtra government and state-run planning agency City and Industrial Development Corporation had said that the airport will be named after Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray.

Referring to this, Frederick said the “airport name game” had turned out to be “another tool” to disrupt the country’s peace. He said there should be a simple and practical approach of naming airports without crediting or discrediting any person.

The matter will be heard next on July 16.