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SC Issues Notice In Plea For Direction To Draft Statutes, Rules and Notifications In Plain Language

Sanya Talwar
15 Oct 2020 7:32 AM GMT
SC Issues Notice In Plea For Direction To Draft Statutes, Rules and Notifications In Plain Language
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The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice in a plea seeking directions for the use of plain language in drafting and issuing of all government communications, and for issuance of handbooks of laws of general public interest which are easily understandable to the layman.A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun sought responsen from the Centre on...

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The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice in a plea seeking directions for the use of plain language in drafting and issuing of all government communications, and for issuance of handbooks of laws of general public interest which are easily understandable to the layman.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun sought responsen from the Centre on the plea.

"Another argument you should make is that if the English is not spoken with simplicity, then people will move away from using it at all"

- CJI SA Bobde

The petition, filed by Petitioner-in-Person Dr. Subhash Vijayran, further seeks for directions to Bar Council of India to introduce a mandatory subject of

It also seeks for an imposition of page limit for pleadings and time limit for oral arguments before the Supreme Court.

The plea states that the writing of most lawyers is "(1) wordy, (2) unclear, (3) pompous and (4) dull".

"We use eight words to say what can be said in two. We use arcane phrases to express commonplace ideas. Seeking to be precise, we become redundant. Seeking to be cautious, we become verbose. Our writing is teemed with legal jargon and legalese. And the story goes?"

The plea goes on to submit that the Constitution, Law and Legal System is for the common man, and yet it is the common man who is most ignorant of the system and even wary of it.

"Because he (common citizen) neither understands the system not the laws. Everything is so much complicated and confusing" – This, the plea states, violates the fundamental right of the masses by denying them Access to Justice, a facet of Article 14 read with Articles 21 and 39A.

In light of the above, the plea contends that the Legislature and the Executive should enact "precise and unambiguous laws, and as far as possible, in plain language". Further, a guide in plain English and other vernacular languages should be issued by the Government to explain laws of general public interest.

It also beseeches upon the Bar Council of India to introduce a mandatory subject of "Legal Writing in Plain English" in the LL.B course where law students are taught to draft precise and concise legal documents in Plain English.

Additionally, it states that the lawyers before the Supreme Court of India should put in extra efforts to make their pleadings "clear, crisp, concise and accurate". Seeking for a limit of 50-60-page limit for pleadings of the parties and 20-30 page limit for replies to the pleadings to be imposed, the Petitioner contends that the limit should only be relaxed in exceptional cases of constitutional or public importance, involving lengthy arguments.

The plea also suggests setting a time limit with respect to oral arguments; 5-10 minutes for applications, 20 minutes for short cases, 30 minutes for cases of moderate length, and 40-60 minutes for long cases.

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