Saturday, 4 June 2022

language of court proceeding

 The language used in the courts in India has seen a over centuries with the shift from Urdu to Persian & Farsi script during mughal period which continued in subordinate courts during the British Rule. The British Government introduce the codified law in India with official language English. It mandated by the government that English language will continue to be used for all official purposes of union for 15 years from the commencement of the Constitution of India. 

Recently Gujarat High Court has asked a journalist facing contempt of court proceeding to speak only in English as that was the higher judiciary. Article 348(1)(a) states that unless parliament by law provides otherwise, all proceedings before the Supreme Court & in every High Court shall be conducted in English. The Governor of the state may, with the consent of the president, authorize the use of Hindi or any other language used for any official purpose. 

There are some states namely Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan & Madhya Pradesh have already authorized the use of Hindi in the proceeding of the High Court. The Constitution of India recognizes English as the official language of the Supreme Court & the High Courts with use of other languages in the courts proceeding in certain cases after getting permission from the court. 

Official language act, 1963 empowers Governor of the state with the consent of president authorize the use of Hindi or other official language of the state in addition to English for the purpose of any judgement, decree or order passed by the High Court of that state with the provision that such languages shall be accompanied by a translation in English. Official Language act, 1963 does not specifically mention that English is the only official language in the court proceeding. 

In case of Courts subordinate to High Court the state government has the power to declare any regional language as an alternative for the proceeding of the court. The preferred language in the courts is English. The reasons for using English as an official language of the court i.e.., The cases come to the Supreme Court from all over the country. Similarly judges & lawyers of the Supreme Court also come from the different part of the country. Judges & lawyers can not expected to read documents & hear arguments in languages they are not acquaint with. In order the avoid such clashes the proceeding of the courts shall be prescribed in English Language in ordinary cases with an exceptional clause for using Hindi or other official languages provided with prior permission of Court. In 2019, the court introduce the initiative to translate its judgement into regional languages so that no one is unable to read or understand judgement pronounced by the courts. The preferred use of English language in the court provide uniformity in judicial system in India. Judges & lawyers get easy access to the judgments or views of the other courts in the similar matters. English is a language that is common is many state within the country which makes it easy for the parties to understand and participate in the court proceeding. 


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