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Report No. 216

Mr. Vijay Hansaria, Sr. Advocate

"You were kind enough to write the aforesaid letter seeking my views on the proposed amendment in Article 348 of the Constitution regarding official language of High Courts/Supreme Court.

I have examined the matter and also discussed with my colleagues. In my opinion that there is no justification for accepting the recommendation of the Committee of Parliament of Official Language on the aforesaid subject for the following reasons:

1. The recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee appears to be on the basis that because of the judgments of the High Courts/ Supreme Court being in English, various Government Departments are not able to pass orders in Hindi. This is not a valid reason since in almost all the States throughout the country, official orders are passed either in English or in respective official language of the State which may be Hindi, Telugu or Assamese. Whenever, these orders are challenged in the High Courts they are translated in English and then filed in the High Court. However, some High Courts permit filing of documents in the regional languages of the State as well.

So also whenever there is any direction by the High Courts/ Supreme Court, they may be carried out by the respective Governments by passing an order in the official language of the respective State which need not necessarily be in English.

2. Since India is a multi-lingual country, a large section of population of our country and also a large number of judges of the High Courts/ Supreme Court are not conversant with the Hindi language. If the judges of the High Courts/ Supreme Court are asked/permitted to deliver their judgments/orders in Hindi, those judges who are not conversant with the Hindi language would not be able to understand the same. Our judicial system is governed by the principle of the stare-decisis, if the judges are not able to understand the judgments of their own court or of the superior court, it would cause lot of confusion and ambiguity and may result in delivery of conflicting judgments.

Further, in our judicial system, judgment of one High Court is relied upon and referred to in a case in another High Court. Though judgment of one High Court does not have a binding precedent value in another High Court, they do have persuasive value. If judgments are pronounced in Hindi, they cannot be understood in non Hindi speaking States.

3. If Hindi is permitted to be the official language of High Courts, similar demand may come from non Hindi speaking States that in their High Courts, the regional language of the State should be used.

4. Further the judgments of the High Courts are appealable to the Supreme Court and the Apex Court comprising of judges many of whom have no knowledge of Hindi language at all. Writing of judgment in Hindi would create problems in this regard as well.

5. In our Constitutional Scheme, judges of the High Courts are transferable and we have many judges in the Hindi belt area who are not conversant with the Hindi language. Judgments delivered in Hindi may not be understood by the transferee judges from non Hindi belt area. Consequently there would be judges in the High Courts who would not be able to understand judgments of their own court.

6. Under Section 7 of the Official Language Act, 1963, the Governor with the previous consent of the President may authorize use of Hindi or the official language of the State for the purpose of judgments/order of the High Court for that State. However, in such a case the section further requires that such judgments/orders "shall be accompanied by a translation of the same in the English Language issued under the authority of the High Court." Thus even if the judgment / order of the High Court is permitted to be delivered in Hindi, it will require simultaneous translation of the judgment in English. This will increase the workload of the courts which are already over burdened.

In view of the aforesaid reasons, it is my humble opinion that the Law Commission of India may give its opinion that it is not desirable to permit delivery of judgments by the High Courts/Supreme Court in Hindi language."

Non-Feasibility of Introduction of Hindi as Compulsory Language in the Supreme Court of India Back

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