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Part XVII of the Constitution deals with the official language in Articles 343 to 351. Its provisions are divided into four heads-Language of the Union, Regional languages, Language of the judiciary and texts of laws and Special directives.
LANGUAGE OF THE UNION
The Constitution contains the following provisions in respect of the official language of the Union.
commission and to report its views on them to the president',
Accordingly, in 1955, the president appointed an Official Language Commission under the chairmanship of BG Kher. The commission submitted its report to the President in 1956. The report was examined by a committee of Parliament constituted in 1957 under the chairmanship of Gobind Ballabh Pant. However, another Official Language Commission (as envisaged by the Constitution) was not appointed in 1960.
Subsequently, the Parliament enacted the Official Language Act in 1963. The act provides for the continued use of English (even after 1965), in addition to Hindi, for all official purposes of the Union and also for the transaction of business in Parliament. Notably, this act enables the use of English indefinitely (without any time-limit). Further, this act was amended in 1967 to make the use of English, in addition to Hindi, compulsory in certain cases".
The Constitution does not specify the official language of different states. In this regard, it makes the following provisions:
Under this provision, most of the states have adopted the major regional language as their official language. For example, Andhra Pradesh has adopted Telugu, Kerala-Malayalam, Assam--Assamese, West Bengal-Bengali, Odisha-Odia. The nine northern states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana and Rajasthan have adopted Hindi. Gujarat has adopted Hindi in addition to Gujarati. Similarly, Goa has adopted Marathi in addition to Konkani Jammu and Kashmir has adopted Urdu (and not Kashmiri). On the other hand, certain north-eastern States like Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have adopted English. Notably, the choice of the state is not limited to the languages enumerated in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
The Official Language Act (1963) lays down that English should be used for purposes of communication between the Union and the non-Hindi states (that is, the states that have not adopted Hindi as their official language). Further, where Hindi is used for communication between a Hindi and a non-Hindi state, such communication in Hindi should be accompanied by an English translation.
LANGUAGE OF THE JUDICIARY AND TEXTS OF LAWS
The constitutional provisions dealing with the language of the courts and legislation are as follows:
(b) The authoritative texts of all bills, acts, ordinances, orders, rules, regulations and byelaws at the Central and state levels",
The Official Language Act of 1963 lays down that Hindi translation of acts, ordinances, orders, regulations and bye-laws published under the authority of the president are deemed to be authoritative texts. Further, every bill introduced in the Parliament is to be accompanied by a Hindi translation. Similarly, there is to be a Hindi translation of state acts or ordinances in certain cases.
The act also enables the governor of a state, with the previous consent of the president, to authorise the use of Hindi or any other official language of the state for judgements, decrees and orders passed by the high court of the state but they should be accompanied by an English translation. For example, Hindi is used in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan for this purpose.
However, the Parliament has not made any provision for the use of Hindi in the Supreme Court. Hence, the Supreme Court hears only those who petition or appeal in English. In 1971, a petitioner insisted on arguing in Hindi a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court. But, the Court cancelled his petition on the ground that the language of the Court was English and allowing Hindi would be unconsti tuti onal.
The Constitution contains certain special directives to protect the interests of linguistic minorities and to promote the development of Hindi language. There are:
Protection of Linguistic Minorities
In this regard, the Constitution makes the following provisions:
Development of Hindi Language
The Constitution imposes a duty upon the Centre to promote the spread and development of the Hindi language so that it may become the lingua franca of the composite culture of India".
Further, the Centre is directed to secure the enrichment of Hindi by assimilating the forms, style and expressions used in hindustani and in other languages specified in the Eighth Schedule and by drawing its vocabulary, primarily on sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.
At present (2013), the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution specifies 22 languages (originally 14 languages). These are Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri (Dongri), Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Mathili (Maithili), Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia8, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Sindhi was added by the 21 st Amendment Act of 1967; Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were added by the 7pt Amendment Act of 1992; and Bodo, Dongri, Maithili and Santhali were added by the 92nd Amendment Act of2003.
Table 58.1 Articles Related to Official Language at a Glance
|Language ofthe Union|
|343.||Official language of the Union|
|344.||Commission and Committee of Parliament on official language|
|345.||Official language or languages of a state|
|346.||Official language for communication between one state and another or between a state and the Union|
|347.||Special provision relating to language spoken by a section of the population of a state|
|Language ofthe Supreme Court, High Courts, etc.|
|348.||Language to be used in the Supreme Court and in the High Courts and for Acts, Bills, etc.|
|349.||Special procedure for enactment of certain laws relating to language|
|350.||Language to be used in representation for redress of grievances|
|350A.||Facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stage|
|350B.||Special Officer for linguistic minorities|
|351.||Directive for development of the Hindi language|
In terms of the Constitution provisions, there are two objectives behind the specification of the above regional languages in the Eighth Schedule:
(a) the members of these languages are to be given representation in the Official Language
(b) the forms, style and expression of these languages are to be used for the enrichment of the Hindi language.
|Notices and References