Friday, February 23, 2024

Hindi Medium: SC Directs Petitioners To Approach HC On Plea Challenging Use Of ‘Hindi’ As Official Court Language In Haryana

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The Supreme Court today has directed petitioners to approach the Punjab & Haryana High Court on a plea challenging the mandatory imposition of Hindi language in Courts of Haryana.

A three- judge Bench led by the Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy observed that there is no problem if English is allowed to be used with the court’s permission.

Advocate Sameer Jain during the hearing today submitted that this decision will be adversarial for those who come from across the country and settle in Haryana or world who are practicing and don’t know Hindi.

The Chief Justice SA Bobde stated that the language of subordinate courts has always been vernacular, even if we go back to the British rule. Language of the MP HC is also Hindi and English. Advocate Jain responded by clarifying that they are are not against Hindi.

A Petition was filed in Supreme Court challenging the mandatory imposition of Hindi as Official Court Language in Haryana under Haryana Official Language Amendment Act, by practising Advocates Sameer Jain, Sandeep Bajaj, Angad Sandhu, Suvigya Awasthi and Anant Gupta against the Haryana Official Language (Amendment) Act, 2020. According to the amendment, Hindi has been made the official language of Courts in Haryana. The amendment has been made to Section 3A of the Haryana Official Languages Act, 1969, designating Hindi as the sole official language to be used for conducting work in both the civil and criminal courts in Haryana.

According to the petitioners, who are practising advocates from various courts in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, English is a widely spoken language in this Country and precluding its use before various lower courts is arbitrary and will have far reaching consequences for people working and living in State of Haryana. Therefore the amendment creating an unreasonable classification between Hindi and non Hindi speaking advocates, violates Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The petition states that precluding the use of English which is used widely to conduct legal proceedings 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.

According to the petitioners, the amendment has been made with the assumption that everyone practicing law in Haryana not only know Hindi but are fluent with it, and imposing Hindi on people of the state and making it necessary to get justice is completely irrational. Majority of people in the State of Haryana, which is an industrial hub, are not fluent in Hindi making the amendment completely unfit for the State.

The petitioners also added that imposing Hindi will create problems for practising lawyers since level of fluency and expertise needed to argue and represent a matter in Hindi is much more than a simple understanding of the language.

-India Legal Bureau

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