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Official language in Courts:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.

 

Context:

Underlining the need to “encourage the use of local languages in courts” since a large section of the country’s population “finds it difficult to understand the judicial process and rulings of the court,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently said that such a move would help the common man relate to the judiciary.

 

What the Constitution says?

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.

  • 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 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.

 

Language of Subordinate Courts:

  • The language of all courts subordinate to High Courts generally remains the same as the language on the commencement of the Civil Procedure Code 1908, till the state government determines.
  • There are two provisions regarding the use of language in subordinate courts. Under Section 137 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the language of the district courts shall be similar to the language of the act.
  • The state government has the power to declare any regional language as an alternative for the proceedings of the court.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Which states in India have the provision of optional use of Hindi in Court proceedings?
  2. What is Eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  3. What is Article 348 related to?
  4. Governors’ powers to authorise the use of Hindu in High Court proceedings.
  5. Who can add or remove languages from 8th schedule?

Mains Link:

Why lawyers in Haryana have opposed the state government’s move to impose Hindi as the official language in courts in Haryana? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.