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Bail plea in Supreme Court seeks status of Hindi as national language

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A bail petition filed in the Supreme Court has raised the question of whether Hindi was the national language of the country.

The plea, filed by a Telugu speaker, challenged an observation made by Bombay High Court in this regard.

The Bombay High Court had refused bail to appellant Gangam Sudhir Kumar Reddy with an observation that Hindi, the language in which Reddy was informed of his statutory rights,wais the national language.

“The applicant was communicated about his right in Hindi which is National language. Applicant was apprehended from Mumbai. The fact that applicant was carrying out business of Tours and Travel, prompts this Court to believe at this stage that he must be aware about the topography and signals of the local language. As such, it can be presumed at this stage that the applicant was aware about Hindi language, in which he was communicated about his right under Section 50 of the Act,” the High Court had said.

Reddy, a resident of Hyderabad and owner of a tours and travel company, was booked in a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act by the Mumbai Police.

He was apprehended from Mumbai and the police allegedly recovered commercial quantity of contraband from the vehicle of the accused.

He claimed that the Anti-Narcotics Cell had informed him of his statutory rights in Hindi, though he was conversant only in Telugu.

Reddy sought bail citing non-compliance with Section 50 (conditions under which search of persons shall be conducted) of the NDPS Act which was rejected by the High Court.

The rejection order contained an observation that once Reddy claimed he is conducting tours and travels business, basic requirement of a person carrying out such business is acquaintance of the language and communication skill.

The accused was communicated about his right in Hindi which is national language, the High Court stated.

With this observation, the High Court rejected the bail plea which has now been challenged before the Supreme Court.

The applicant was communicated about his right in Hindi which is National language.
Bombay High Court
The plea filed before the Supreme Court has contended that the High Court failed to appreciate that Hindi is not a national language.

The plea states that the accused was not informed of the particulars of offence for which he was arrested.

Fundamental and statutory rights of the accused were violated when the grounds for the arrest were not communicated, the plea drawn by advocate Lewish Edward and filed through advocate Sandeep Singh said.

The appeal pointed out that the accused had been in custody for over 2 years despite a chargesheet being filed.

It was also pointed out that the charges are yet to be framed and the trial has not commenced.

The Delhi High Court had recently observed in a preventive detention case that it is a person’s fundamental right under Article 22(5) of the Constitution to have the grounds of detention communicated to him in writing in language understood by him/ her.

Case name: Gangam Sudhir Kumar Reddy v. State of Maharashtra

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