Context:The Haryana government’s decision to enforce use of Hindi language in all courts and tribunals across the state has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
More on News:
- Some advocates of Haryana have jointly challenged the new Section 3A of Haryana Official Language (Amendment) Act of 2020.
- The amendment read, “In all Civil Courts and Criminal Courts in Haryana subordinate to the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, all revenue Courts and Rent Tribunals or any other court or tribunal constituted by the State Government, work shall be done in Hindi language.
- The government has presented the amendment after due consideration adding that Uttar Pradesh had introduced such a system many years back.
- As per them the witnesses don’t know what has been recorded in his or her statement in the court if the same is recorded in English.
- It will allow the citizens of Haryana to understand the entire justice process in their own language so that they can easily put their views before the Courts.
- To spread the propagation of Hindi as the language of the people of the state, it is necessary that this language should be used in our day to day work.
- The government pointed out Haryana was separated from the erstwhile state of Punjab in 1966 on linguistic basis as Hindi is the predominantly spoken language in the area.
- In 1969, Hindi was declared the official language of Haryana.
Concern of lawyers:
- The lawyers have argued that English is widely used by advocates and the subordinate judiciary in lower courts in justice administration work.
- The proficiency in language required to argue a case is much more than in the ordinary use of a language.
- Imposing Hindi in courts and making it the only possible way to get justice is irrational.
- The lawyers argue that the amendment has been introduced under the misconception that everyone practising law in the lower courts of Haryana are proficient in Hindi.
- The imposition of Hindi was not fit for the state as it was an industrial hub and home to multi-national companies, where people from every strata of the society reside and majority of them were not fluent in Hindi.
- There were a sizable number of lawyers who would be handicapped in arguing their cases to the fullest in Hindi.
- The imposition of Hindi as the sole language would result in an unreasonable classification between lawyers who are fluent in Hindi and those who are not.
- The amendment runs ultra vires to the fundamental right to equality (Article 14), freedom to practice a profession of choice (Article 19), dignity and livelihood (Article 21).
The government said it shall provide the requisite infrastructure and training of staff within six months for the commencement of the amended Act. However it is for SC to decide when precluding a popular language (English) from usage is justifiable or not.
Official Language Provisions:
- Article 343 is about the official language of the Union of India.
- According to this article Hindi in Devnagri script is the official language.
- This article also states that English will continue to be used as an official language for 15 years from the commencement of the Constitution.
- The government passed the Official Languages Act, 1963 which authorized the continuation of English as an official language in addition to Hindi. Therefore, both Hindi and English became the official languages of India.
- Article 345 deals with Official languages of state
- Subject to the provisions of articles 346 and 347, the Legislature of a State may by law adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the State
- Hindi as the language or languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes of that State.
- Provided until the Legislature of the State, by law, provides for an official language, the English language shall continue to be used for those official purposes within the State for which it was being used immediately before the commencement of this Constitution.
- Article 346 is about the official language for communication between the states and between a state and the Union.
- The Article states that the “authorized” language will be used. However, if two or more states agree that their communications shall be in Hindi, then Hindi may be used.
- Article 347 gives the President the power to recognize a language as an official language of a given state,
- Provided that the President is satisfied that a substantial proportion of that state desires that the language be recognized. Such recognition can be for a part of the state or the whole state.
- Article 348 deals with Language to be used in courts
- Article 348 (1) of the Constitution of India provides that all proceedings in the Supreme Court and in every High court shall be in English Language until Parliament by law otherwise provides.
- Currently ONLY English is used in Supreme Court.
- Under Article 348 (2), the Governor of the State may, with the previous consent of the President, authorize the use of the Hindi language or any other language used for any official purpose of the State, in the proceedings of the High Court having its principal seat in that State provided that decrees, judgments or orders passed by such High Courts shall be in English.
- Section 7 of the Official Languages Act, 1963, provides that the use of Hindi or official language of a State in addition to the English language may be authorized, with the consent of the President of India, by the Governor of the State for the purpose of judgments etc. made by the High Court for that State.
- The provision of optional use of Hindi in proceedings has already been made in the High Courts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. .
In a nutshell, the Union government has to use English and Hindi for its official purposes, whereas the state governments are empowered to choose one or more official languages for the state.
Image Source: The Hindu