This article has been written by Kashish Goyal, a student of Mody University of Science and Technology, Rajasthan.
The Government of Haryana has notified the lower courts and the Subordinate courts of Haryana on 11th May stating that “Hindi would be an official language in all legal and judicial works”. In addition to this, all the civil, criminal, and revenue courts which are subordinate to lower Courts will proceed with their legal work using Hindi as standard language. This imposition has been done by inserting an amendment in Haryana Official Language (Amendment) Act, 1969 under Section 3 A.
Earlier, Section 3A was – Official language for the official purpose of State
It states that Hindi will be the first language to be used in Official work in the State of Haryana from the appointed day except for the matters which the state government excludes before the appointed day. The State government may also by the notification can specify that Punjabi will be the second official language used for official purposes.
After the amendment in Section 3A –Use of Hindi in High Court and Tribunals
The following section states that in any court or tribunal whether it is civil, criminal, revenue, or Rent established by the state government shall do their official work in Hindi. The State government shall provide training for staff within six months from the Commencement of Haryana official language (Amendment) Act 2020. (The words which are stated above “Civil court” or “criminal Court” have the same meanings as inserted in “Code of civil procedure, 1908” and “Code of Criminal procedure, 1973”)
By inserting the above provisions, many people seem happy because they can easily understand the context written in Hindi. Some people are well versed in English and some are only comfortable with Hindi language. It becomes easy for them to understand any legal document as earlier they have to hire some officials to read the content which limits their resources to get justice. But Apart from the judicial works, there are many institutions which are affiliated to the government sector; they are also working in both Hindi and English. Many of the students came from rural areas and they do not easily understand English well.
Now it is clear that a mixed reaction of people is getting to know about Imposition of Hindi in Haryana Courts. Some are in disfavour and rest are in favour. Below are the effects of this imposition on the general public:
As we know, among all the states, Haryana is the one where most of the people belong to social background class. A person who was brought up in the villages of Haryana as a Haryanvi owns a pithy relationship with English. An ordinary person who wants to participate in day to day judicial work cannot go further due to hindrance in language. Some major problems which they are facing with the English language are mentioned below:
- The lack of understanding English makes it unable for them to understand the affidavit or any other legal document. Because of this, they have to hire the advocates to whom they have to pay higher fees.
- Arguments by the opposition lawyers in English during the Court proceedings leads to a difficulty in further proceedings.
- When the judge gives a judgment, they fail to understand the reasons or arguments which are stated by the judge or the defence lawyer.
- In many courts where the medium of speaking is English, many of the legal workers face problems as the medium of interaction in their law schools was Hindi and now, they are unable to understand in English.
- Many lawyers have completed their education from the backward colleges of Haryana, or if in case, a new officer tries to polish his language skills, he has to invest more time to get qualified in the language which leads to delay in his career as well as Court proceedings.
- Last but not the least, when an individual originating from a Hindi Medium College tries to qualify in the Haryana judiciary Exam, the post-qualification interviews are conducted in English where the chance of rejection increases. Only those people are able to crack the Judicial services selection criteria, who are well educated with the English language.
Those who are fluent in the English language argued that:
- It is genuinely difficult to switch the language suddenly.
- Our Education system also works in English. The Supreme court and the High Courts conduct their proceedings in English as it is mandatory for the courts which is also guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The question arose that whether the teaching institutions should continue to teach the law students in Hindi or should they change their curriculum to English.
- It is well known that all books are written originally in English. Therefore, it becomes difficult to translate them in Hindi.
“Law is based upon the facts and circumstances. Language does not play a vital role in judicial work. Any official work can be done in any of the languages, what matters is FACTS OF THE PARTICULAR PROCEEDINGS”
After the amendment, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court, where it was argued that there is an unreasonable classification between the Hindi speaking lawyers and English-speaking lawyers in the lower courts. This petition states that Section. 3-A incorporated under the Haryana Official Language (Amendment) Act 2020 is unconstitutional and arbitrary.
The petition was jointly challenged by Advocate Sameer Jain, Sandeep Bajaj, Angad Sandhu, Suwigya Avasthi, and Anand Gupta. They contended that to argue in a court, proficiency is required, and language is just a medium to communicate the proficiency. They also stated that in the state of Haryana, most of the lawyers are not even proficient in Hindi as Haryana is an industrial hub. Not all the lawyers practising in the Courts can argue in Hindi as well. The amendment in the act is also unreasonable under Art. 14 and Art 21 of the Indian Constitution i.e. Right to equality and Right to practice a profession with dignity respectively.
It can be concluded that the interest of the general public should be taken as a primary consideration. In Haryana, Hindi is made compulsory as it is in the interest of the general public. Our judicial machinery depends on the lawyers and judges and if they will not be able to interpret the law and work properly, our justice delivery system of the country might fail. Therefore, the interest of the general public is supreme and paramount.