Four days after Hindi Diwas, the Indianization of the legal process, which the Chief Justice of the country has talked about, would have awakened political will if political interests had been served.
Chief Justice (CJI) NV Ramana (File photo- PTI)
When the Chief Justice of the country NV Ramana yesterday expressed concern towards the common man regarding the use of English in the judicial system, I was reminded of a five-year-old incident. I went to the Supreme Court during the hearing of a case. I reached court no.10 20 minutes before my turn. Inside, a two-judge bench was hearing the cases already listed. During a trial, the lawyer started speaking in English. The judge also interrupted in English and said that ‘send it back to high court’ means that the case should be sent back to the high court. After hearing that lasted hardly two-and-a-half minutes, the party involved in the case stood bewildered. (I came to know later that he was a farmer from Hardoi, UP) When he started turning outside with a question mark on his face, the judge interrupted – ‘You were told last time also do justice friend’. When the lawyer looked at the judge, the lawyer pointed out, let me tell you everything. That is to say that the language of the plaintiff was Hindi, the language of the lawyer was Hindi, the language of at least one of the two judges (who are now retired) was also Hindi. But in front of the farmer of Hardoi, all the proceedings were done in English which he could not understand.
This is what Justice Ramana said yesterday – ‘The court is a stranger world to the parties who have come to the court from rural areas with their family disputes because the debate in English in general is foreign to them.’ He also made an important point that ‘the functioning of our courts is colonial in origin, which does not match the needs of India’.
If seen, even when there was no democracy in India, Persian or Urdu used to be the language of the court, because the governance of the country was in the hands of the monarchy who used these languages. When the British era came, the language of the court became English. Colonial dominance is also established when the dialect of ‘master’ is imposed on the language of the colony. You’ll also find different court languages in different countries in South America or Africa. For example, Portuguese in Brazil while Spanish in many other countries of Latin America. French in North Central African country Chad while English in Nigeria. Similarly in Libya and Somalia you will also find Italian speakers. This is the colonial rite of imposed language, under which the dominance of English is established in India and in the courts here.
The President has already raised the issue of linguistic boundary.
President Ram Nath Kovind (who has been a lawyer by profession) had also said in the All India State Judicial Academies Directors’ Retreat on 6 March this year that ‘due to linguistic limitations, the plaintiffs have to understand the decisions taken in their own cases in the court. You have to fight for it. When the President and the Chief Justice of the country are raising the question of the convenience of language in the courts, then it should be expected that it will be debated in the public court as well. What should be the official language of the courts, this question also came in the discussion in the year 2020. Then the Supreme Court had asked the petitioners challenging the ‘Haryana Official Language (Amendment) Act’ to appeal to the Punjab-Haryana High Court. In this petition, there was a demand to declare the ‘Haryana Official Language (Amendment) Act’ as unconstitutional. The Act enforces Hindi as the sole official language to be used in the lower courts of the state.
There is also a need to understand Article 348 of the Constitution, which says two things. First, unless the Parliament adopts any other system, the proceedings of the Supreme Court and the High Court will be in English language only. Secondly, the Governor of a State can, with the permission of the President, give Hindi or any other language the status of the language of proceedings of the High Court. This means that unless Parliament makes a new law in this regard, English will remain the language of the Supreme Court and the High Court. That is, the right to change the language of the court is not with the courts, but with the government.
The arguments put forth in the Constituent Assembly have merit
You should also know about the debate after which this arrangement was made in the Constitution of India. On Tuesday, September 13, 1949, the Constituent Assembly sat at the Constitution Club of Delhi at 9 am. A debate started on the subject already proposed regarding Hindi that ‘the official language of the Union would be Hindi and the script Devanagari, the form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union would be the international form of Indian numerals’. Agreeing to the proposal presented on the official language, Ram Sahai, a member from ‘Madhya Bharat’, said- ‘I agree with this proposal but it is beyond my understanding that when Hindi is replaced by English, it will take 15 years. Time has been given, then why a separate system is being made regarding Supreme Court and High Court. In fact, in Article 343 of the Constitution, it was written that the official language of the Union would be Hindi, but in clause 1 of the same article, it was also recorded that ‘for all the official purposes of the Union for a period of 15 years from the commencement of the Constitution, the English language shall be used’. will continue to be used for which it was already being used. Ram Sahai raised the same issue. He said that if arrangements for both Hindi and English are being made in other places, then why only English is being established in the courts. He made a valid argument- ‘Hindi is the language of the legislature in Central India. All bills, proposals and amendments are prepared there in Hindi. The proceedings of the House are conducted in Hindi. There the language of the High Court should also be Hindi. Why should English be brought there? ‘
Don’t hate English but adopt the local language
When this debate was going on in the Constituent Assembly, then the representatives of different provinces advocated the local language for the Lower and High Courts. Arguments were also made that although the copy of the judgment should be translated into English, but the language of the proceedings should not be English.
An interesting information in the end: When the debate was going on in the Constituent Assembly about Hindi and English, then Algu Rai Shastri, coming from the United Provinces, gave a scholarly speech in favor of Hindi. He also gave literary quotes. For example, he recited a quatrain referring to the Ramcharit Manas- ‘Arun Parag Jalaj Bhari Nike, Sasihin Bhush Ahi Lobha Ami Ke’. On this, the president of the assembly, Rajendra Prasad said, ‘This is a Constituent Assembly, not a poet’s conference.’ On this, Algu Rai Shastri went ahead citing the rich tradition of Hindi. Algu Rai was a member of the first Lok Sabha from Azamgarh East, whose name is now Ghosi. The entire discussion of the meeting on this subject is very interesting, which will be discussed again sometime.
read this also-
Charanjit Singh Channi: Why was Charanjit Singh Channi made the Chief Minister of Punjab, know how many targets Congress hit with one arrow?