Plea is SC challenging imposing of ‘Hindi’ as official court language

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    9th Jun, 2020

Context

The Haryana Government’s decision to enforce use of ‘Hindi’ in all courts and tribunals across the state has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

About

Background

  • Recently, Haryana notified that ‘Hindi’ should be used in all Courts and Tribunals of the state.
  • The state of Haryana amended Section 3 of The Haryana Official Language (Amendment) Act, 1969.
  • The Act is now called The Haryana Official Language (Amendment) Act, 2020.
  • According to the Act-

“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.”

  • Notified earlier this month, the amendment says the state government shall provide the requisite infrastructure and training of staff within six months for the commencement of the amended Act.

The petition

  • Five lawyers have challenged the validity of Act, terming it “arbitrary” on the ground that it created an unreasonable classification between Hindi and non-Hindi speaking advocates.
  • The amendment was with the assumption that everyone practising law in Haryana not only knew Hindi but was also fluent in it.
  • To say that imposition of Hindi was for state’s people and necessary to get justice was “wholly irrational.
  • The amendment precluded the use of English which was used widely to conduct legal proceedings.
  • This has impinged upon the right to freely practice the legal profession and earn a livelihood as guaranteed under Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
  • 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.

Which language is actually used in the court?

  • Under the Constitution of India, English is the language of the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
  • However, through Article 348 (2) of the Constitution, the governor of a state, with the consent of the President, can allow the use of the local language in the High Court.
  • 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 purpose of judgments etc. made by the High Court for that State.
  • So far, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar have taken this route to do use Hindi in their High Court proceedings.
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