Report No. 216
Hon'ble Mr. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer
The issue raised by the Central Law Commission is fraught with grave implications which affect the linguistic, semantic and federal dimensions of the freedom of expression and right to justice of the people of India who use, in different states and regions, sixteen or more different languages. Hindi is not spoken or understood in many States nor for, that matter is English. If parliamentary bills and rulings of higher courts are written in Hindi originally, a large section of Indians will be denied the facility of getting directly to the original drawn up in Hindi, if the proposed suggestion is accepted.
Perhaps this was one reason why the great patriot and first Indian Governor General Shri C. Rajagopalachari protested against Hindi being forced on the people. He gave an angry call: "Hindi never, English ever". Tamil Nadu will never accept Hindi judgments either of the Supreme Court or the Madras High Court. Hindi chauvinism has no national pragmatism. English and Hindi, even together, may not help the Indian millions even by legislative command.
Indeed, many judges in many courts, including the Supreme Court, do not know Hindi and, therefore, cannot read or understand judgments if produced in Hindi. I feel the nationalist feeling behind the plea for Hindi, but I cannot ignore the realities on the ground in our multilingual country. The present system has also international import and our judges have to rely on judgments written in English in Supreme Courts of other countries.
I am all for Hindi as a personal preference, but I am all against Hindi by compulsion, especially of judgments of the Supreme Court of India. I have many more reasons from a practical angle in support of thepresent system which I cannot elaborate here. Indeed when the great Lenin came to power in the Soviet Union he had warned against Russification in other states of the USSR which would have the flavour of imperialism.
Wisdom is different from obscurantism. Let us give Hindi a high place in national expression and full facility for instant translation of every representation people wish to make to the higher courts as an integral part of free legal aid. The three-language formula which has some official status may well be considered for implementation, whatever be the cost it may involve. Linguistic militancy will alienate and divide but federal pluralism is democratic sensitivity."