Report No. 216
8. Judgments of High Courts/Supreme Court:
8.1 It is virtually impossible to implement the recommendation in Clause 16.8(e). In several non-Hindi speaking States, Judges will find it impossible to deliver their judgments in Hindi.
8.2 Any amendment to this effect is bound to generate tremendous resistance and lead to further allegations of Hindi domination.
8.3 Even judges whose mother tongue is Hindi will find it difficult to deliver judgments in Hindi. The legal education of all the High Court and Supreme Court judges has been in English. Judges who have been members of the Bar have all dealt with cases only in English. In all the High Courts, the arguments advanced mainly in English. Therefore, it will be impossible to deliver judgments in Hindi.
8.4 Several Central statutes have all India applicability. It is difficult to understand how a judgment can be delivered in Hindi with regard to tax laws, intellectual property and so on. A judgment has to be clear and its ratio discidendi should be easily discernible. Delivering it in Hindi is bound to lead to confusion and chaos as several legal expressions do not have a meaningful Hindi equivalent.
8.5 The object of such a far-reaching recommendation is not clear. An analysis of the Clause 16.8(e) indicates that this recommendation is made on the following grounds:-
(a) Large number of Government Departments who are carrying out judicial and quasi-judicial functions would be able to deliver the orders in Hindi;
(b) At present, these Departments are unable to pass orders in Hindi because the appeal against their order are in High Courts/Supreme Court would have to be conducted in English.
8.6 Both these grounds cannot be the basis for all judgments to be delivered in Hindi by the High Courts and Supreme Court.
(a) In several Government Departments the orders of quasi-judicial nature are passed only in English.
(b) Maximum number of quasi-judicial orders are passed in revenue and service matters. The appellate authorities under various under various Central enactments pass their orders only in English.
(c) It is not clear how a judgment in English will cause any handicap to any Government Department from delivering its order in Hindi. If the concerned Government Officer or authority is unable to understand English, the simpler mechanism would be to have a particular judgment translated in Hindi.
(d) As regards ground (b), it is not clear as to why the appeal being conducted in English would handicap or disable Departments to pass orders in Hindi. If any Department wants to pass an order in Hindi, it is at liberty to do so. The aggrieved party while challenging the order will enclose an Engloish translation thereof. Frequently, orders passed by the State Governments or the Central Government in the local language or in Hindi is translated in English and taken up for consideration by the respective High Courts/Supreme Court.
(e) The Supreme Court judges deliver more than 10 to 15,000 judgments per year. The reported cases alone run to 12,000 pages. It is impossible to expect the Supreme Court judges who come from various States to deliver their judgments in Hindi. Even if they deliver it in Hindi, there would be a Herculean task of having it translated in English for the understanding of the legal and accounting professions and for various industries. (This problem will be multiplied 20 times for various High Courts)
(f) The implementation of such a recommendation will lead to a further delay in the disposal of cases. Merely because some Government Department wants to deliver its orders in Hindi cannot be a ground for all High Courts and the Supreme Court being required to render their judgments in Hindi.
(g) At present juncture, such a recommendation will lead to serious friction, particularly between the Northern and Southern States. English has been a unifying language and any attempt to substitute English with Hindi is fraught with grave consequences. It may not be out of place to mention that China is taking extraordinary efforts to ensure that the country is English literate.
Our major advantage in the global economy is fluency in English language. Let us not destroy that advantage. The judgments of our courts are being cited in the different Commonwealth countries and also in the US and Europe. Requiring the High Court and Supreme Court to deliver judgments in Hindi would be a retrograde step.
(h) It must be recognized that several attempts to substitute English with Hindi or regional languages in the High Courts have been a colossal failure.
(i) It is therefore recommended that High Courts and the Supreme Court should continue to deliver their judgments in English. Wherever a particular judgment is required for passing of orders in Hindi, that judgment can be translated in Hindi.
(ii) In the vast majority of cases, there has been no need for judgments to be in the Hindi language. There has been no analysis of specific instances where judgments in English have created a severe handicap in the functioning of the Government. Unless a scientific study is made, such a recommendation should not be implemented."