1 Dec 2021 9:56 AM GMT
During the Zero Hour in Lok Sabha today, Mr. Satyadev Pachauri MP from Kanpur (UP) raised the issue of the language used in higher courts across the country. "I want to draw the House's attention to the lack of usage of National Language Hindi in the Supreme Court of India and High Courts across the country. At the time of Independence, the makers of the Constitution had deliberated...
During the Zero Hour in Lok Sabha today, Mr. Satyadev Pachauri MP from Kanpur (UP) raised the issue of the language used in higher courts across the country.
"I want to draw the House's attention to the lack of usage of National Language Hindi in the Supreme Court of India and High Courts across the country. At the time of Independence, the makers of the Constitution had deliberated on this issue and decided that for some time the higher courts would continue the use of English. However, they also provided that the Parliament, whenever it wanted, could direct the usage of Hindi or other local languages."
He further pointed out that while the country is celebrating 75 years since Independence, yet the Supreme Court of India does not use Hindi or other local languages. He also pointed the House's attention to the fact that local languages are used in lower courts of the country.
"In lower courts, lawyers talk in their local languages, judgements are delivered in local languages too, but in the Supreme Court only English is used. Today a farmer or a labourer who wants to take his issue to the Supreme Court will not understand what they lawyers or judges are saying." MP added.
In this backdrop, it maybe noted that Art.348 of the Constitution deals with the provision of language used by the Supreme Court of India. It makes English as the working language of the Supreme Court of India until the parliament by law specifically provides some other language.
In 1963, Parliament enacted the Official Languages Act. Section 7 empowers the Governor of a state to, with previous consent of the President, authorize the use of Hindi/the official language of the state, in addition to English, for the purpose of any judgment, decree or order passed by the High Court of that state. The Official Languages Act makes no mention of the Supreme Court where English is the only language used in proceedings, pleadings, arguments and judgements.
Interestingly, Bills have been introduced in Parliament to mandate to use of regional languages in courts including the Supreme Court without any avail.
A Law Commission Report (No.2016) had examined this issue. The Law Commission of Indian on "Non-Feasibility of Introduction of Hindi as Compulsory Language for Supreme Court proceedings of India", Report No. 216, noted as follows:
"Language is a highly emotional issue for the citizens of any nation. It has a great unifying force and is a powerful instrument for national integration. No language should be thrust on any section of the people against their will since it is likely to become counter-productive.
"It is not merely a vehicle of thought and expression, but for Judges at the higher level, it is an integral part of their decision-making process. Judges have to hear and understand the submissions of both the sides, apply the law to adjust equities. Arguments are generally made in higher courts in English and the basic literature under the Indian system is primarily based on English and American textbooks and case laws. Thus, Judges at a higher level should be left free to evolve their own pattern of delivering judgments."
"At any rate no language should be thrust upon the Judges of the higher judiciary and they should be left free to deliver their judgments in the language they prefer. It is important to remember that every citizen, every Court has the right to understand the law laid down finally by the Apex Court and at present one should appreciate that such a language is only English."
In 2019, the Supreme Court had introduced an initiative to translate its judgments into regional languages.