Kannada in HC: Centre takes shelter under old 'mistake'

Kannada in HC: Centre takes shelter under old 'mistake'

High Court of Karnataka

The controversy over Hindi imposition has once again brought to the fore successive governments’ failure to allow the use of regional languages in the high courts.

As per the existing rules, regional languages are being used in the trial courts in the country and English is the only language authorised in the high courts, except four states. 

This effectively blocks use of regional languages in several states, including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. This has effectively denied voice to many people in the respective states.

While state governments have pushed for allowing their respective official language, the Union government is taking shelter under a 54-year-old Cabinet decision, which had left the matter to the Supreme Court.

The old mistake has helped the present establishment led by the BJP.

Answering a question in the recent Lok Sabha session, the Ministry of Law and Justice had said that official requests relating to use of Bengali, Tamil, Hindi, Gujarati and Kannada in the high courts of Calcutta, Madras, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Karnataka, respectively, have been received.

“The Cabinet Committee, in its decision dated 21.05.1965, required that consent of the Chief Justice of India be obtained on any proposal relating to use of a language other than English in the High Court,” the ministry said in a written reply.

The Centre’s stance changes when it comes to use of Hindi language in some high courts.

“In terms of the provisions under Article 348 (2) of the Constitution and Section 7 of the Official Act, 1963, use of Hindi has been authorised in the proceedings as well as in the Decree, Judgement in the High Courts of the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” the ministry said.

In the last 54 years, the Supreme Court had rejected the requests on use of regional languages in the various states, including Karnataka, in 1997, 1999, 2012 and 2016, the ministry said.

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