Sunday 12 June 2016

Violating one provision of the Indian Constitution

Article 348 of the Constitution of India states :

" Until Parliament by law or otherwise provides, all proceedings in the Supreme Court shall be in the English language ".

Though as a Judge I had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, I decided that I will speak often in Hindi during Court hearings. Though not specifically described as the national language in the Constitution ( Article 343 only describes it as the Official Language of the Union ), it is in fact the national language.

 While I respect all languages, none can compare to Hindi when it comes to the number of people who speak it. It is not only spoken in the Hindi speaking belt i.e. U.P. Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, etc but it is also spoken even in much of the non Hindi speaking belt as a second language, West Bengal, Kashmir, Punjab, Assam and other North Eastern states, Telengana, Maharashtra, etc.

 Many even in south India can speak it.

So when I came to the Supreme Court, I decided that there is one provision in the Constitution i.e. Article 348 which I will not follow in entirety, come what may. So I would often speak in a mixture of English and Hindi during hearings in the Supreme Court. I can be accused of not following my oath, but so be it.

 On the very first day I sat in Court, during the hearing of a case I put some question to the counsel in Hindi.

 At this my senior judge remarked " Brother, in the Supreme Court only English is used "

 I replied " You may speak in English, but I will certainly speak sometimes in Hindi ".

 When some Tamilian  lawyer appeared I sometimes spoke in Tamil, a bit of which I had picked up in Tamilnadu when I was the Chief Justice there, and when a Bengali lawyer appeared, I would speak sometimes in my broken Bengali.

By Hindi I mean simple colloquial Hindi spoken by the common man ( also called Hindustani or khariboli ) and not the literary Hindi

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