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languages used in court in India


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


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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