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Report No. 216

Mr. Fali S. Nariman, President, Bar Association of India

"Dear Dr. Justice Lakshmanan,

I am receipt of your letter of 30th September, 2008.

2. I may be old fashioned but I would earnestly request both Parliament and the Government of India not to tinker with the legal system as it has existed - principally because the entire legal system in India is based on, and has much in common with, the English-language: both were originally imported from abroad. Over the course of over 300 years, each has become distinctively Indian.

The language of our law, in more senses than one, is English. It is true that the English language as spoken and written in India has the same alphabet and conforms to the same rules of grammar - but the idioms, the expressive phrases and even the pronunciation of words are vastly different. Many new words have crept in.

We have institutionalized and localized the English language; as some with said, it has become English - so it is with the legal system. Originally an English transplant with Anglo- Saxon roots, the legal system in India has grown over the years, nourished in Indian soil; it has become indigenized; what was intended to be an English Oak, has turned into a large sprawling Banyan tree whose serial roots have descended to the ground to become new trunks.

3. To change the language in which Acts are drafted and to require Courts to deliver judgments in Hindi is at present something impossible to conceive - unless we throw out our legal system and adopt a new one by consensus. Indians would then all have to speak and think in Hindi in a new indigenous system of law that is truly Indian (and not Anglo Saxon): this requires a major surgical operation and at the present time I would earnestly suggest that we postpone this exercise till India has become what it was always meant to be: a unified, united and pluralistic society of peace loving citizens."

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

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