Report No. 216
Mr. C. Lakshmi Narayanan, Advocate
"As you are aware, I have been practicing in the Madras High Court from 1956 onwards and I am shocked to see that the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice by its letter dated 29-3- 2006 has sent to various Legislative Departments with the copy of the recommendation of the Committee of Parliament on Official Language, seeking their views on
"No.16.8(d) Article 348 of Constitution proposing Legislative Department to undertake original drafting in Hindi and 16.8(e) proposing 'after such amendment of High Courts/Supreme Courts should be asked to start delivering their judgments and decrees, etc in Hindi.
(I am totally against "16.8(e) After the amendment of Article 348 of the Constitution, High Courts/Supreme Courts should be asked to start delivering their judgments and decrees, etc. in Hindi so that large number of Government Departments, who are carrying out judicial/quasi-judicial functions, could be able to deliver orders in Hindi. At present, these departments are unable to pass orders in Hindi, because the appeal against their orders in High Courts/Supreme Court would have to be conducted in English".
If such orders are passed by the High Court and Supreme Court in Hindi, it will cause virtual chaos in the judicial system. India is a country with several states having their own official language and imposing Hindi on the litigants and the Courts especially High Courts and Supreme Court is unwarranted and will cause great harm to the litigants and Courts in non-Hindi states. In a federal set up of the Government, the rights and convenience of each state has got to be respected and taken note of.
Though in these states upto the District Court level, legal proceedings including judgments are delivered in their local languages, the proceeding before the High Courts and Supreme Court are carried on in English language which is most convenient for the litigant public and the advocates arguing those cases. English being universal language, the Judgment of the High Courts and Supreme Court in English are of great importance. Though Hindi is declared as National Language all other languages are given importance and cannot be thought as inferior than Hindi.
It is only a small percentage of cases reach the High Courts and Supreme Court compared to several lakhs of cases at the lower level. Moreover, the Judgment of the High Court and Supreme Court are binding on all subordinate Courts and after the judgments are delivered in Hindi, it will cause havoc in other states where Hindi is not official language. I will involve huge expenses for translation and cause delay in delivering judgments, thus negative the rights of litigants for speedy justice.
The present system of judgments being delivered in English at the High Courts and Supreme Court is the most suitable in the interest of litigant public and the advocates hailing from non-Hindi states. Further the present system of the post of Chief Justice of High Court being held by a senior judge from different Court particularly from non-Hindi region will cause great hardship to such appointees.
Moreover, this kindly of recommendation will create ill-feeling among various states in India which have their own language for administration and revive the much forgotten anti Hindi agitations which is healthy for a federal country like India.
I request your Lordship to kindly reject the proposed amendment in the interest of unity of the country."
Article 348 of the Constitution of India reads thus:-
"Article. 348. Language to be used in the Supreme Court and in the High Courts and for Acts, Bills, etc. - (1) Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this Part, until Parliament by law otherwise provides:-
(a) all proceedings in the Supreme Court and in every High Court,
(b) the authoritative texts -
(i) of all Bills to be introduced or amendments thereto to be moved in either House of Parliament or in the House or either House of the Legislature of a State,
(ii) of all Acts passed by Parliament or the Legislature of a State and of all Ordinances promulgated by the President or the Governor of a State, and
(iii) of all orders, rules, regulations and bye-laws issued under this Constitution or under any law made by Parliament or the Legislature of a State, shall be in the English language.
(2) Notwithstanding anything in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) the Governor of a State may, with the previous consent of the President authorize the use of the Hindi language, or any other language used for any official purposes of the State, in proceedings in the High Court having its principal seat in that State:
Provided that nothing in this clause shall apply to any judgment, decree or order passed or made by such High Court.
(3) Notwithstanding anything in sub-clause (b) of clause (1), where the Legislature of a State has prescribed any language other than the English language for use in Bills introduced in, or Acts passed by, the Legislature of the State or in Ordinances promulgated by the Governor of the State or in any order, rule, regulation or bye-law referred to in paragraph (iii) of that sub-clause, a translation of the same in the English language published under the authority of the Governor of the State in the Official Gazette of that State shall be deemed to be the authoritative text thereof in the English language under this article."