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Government Against Hindi as Official Language in Higher Judiciary
Jan 26, 2015

The centre might have pushed for use of Hindi as the preferred official language in various ministries and other public offices, but the higher judiciary is evidently out of its net. The government filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, rejecting a proposal to amend the Constitution and make Hindi the official language in the apex court and 24 high courts across the country.

The Department of Official Language in the Ministry of Home Affairs filed its affidavit in response to a PIL which claimed that using English as an official language in higher judiciary was a legacy of the British rule which should be scrapped.

  • The government shot down the idea of amending the Constitution to make Hindi the official language for conducting court proceedings in higher judiciary, and relied upon a report by the Law Commission in this regard.

  • The Commission, in its 216th report in 2008, had held that introduction of Hindi as a compulsory language in the Supreme Court and the high courts was not feasible. No language should be thrust on any section of the people against their will since it is likely to become counterproductive.

  • Use of language, the law panel had said, was not merely a vehicle of thought for the judges, but formed an integral part of their decision-making process and hence they should be left free to evolve their own patterns and to choose their own preferred language for delivering judgements.

  • Further, judges of the high courts are transferred from one part of the country to another, and it would be extremely difficult for discharge of their judicial functions if they were asked to deliver orders in a particular language.

  • The Commission has added that use of English also facilitated movement of lawyers from one court to another.

  • The petition had sought amendment in the Article 348 of the Constitution which says that all proceedings in the Supreme Court and high courts shall be done in English.

While the Government summarily rejected the proposition to consider use of Hindi in the Supreme Court, it highlighted that Clause (2) of the Article 348 already laid down an enabling provision whereby the Governor of a state, with the previous consent of the President, may authorise use of Hindi language in the proceedings of the high court in that state.

  • Allahabad, Patna, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan High Courts have been using Hindi as an optional language.

(Courtesy: Indian Express)


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