PIL in Kerala High Court against Hindi, Sanskrit titles to central legislations

The names in these languages are hard to pronounce for non-Hindi and non-Sanskrit speakers, which violates the fundamental right under Article 19, the petitioner has claimed.

ByPTI

Published May 29, 2024 | 11:40 AMUpdatedMay 29, 2024 | 11:40 AM

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A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Kerala High Court claiming that Parliament does not have the authority to name legislations in any other language other than English.

The plea, by a lawyer, seeks directions from the court to the central government to give English titles to the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 2023, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam 2023, which replaced the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Penal Code and the Indian Evidence Act, respectively.

The petition also seeks a declaration from the court that giving Hindi and Sanskrit titles to those legislations is ultra vires to the scheme of the Constitution.

The petitioner, advocate PV Jeevesh, said that while the Centre gave Hindi and Sanskrit titles to those important legislations, the majority of the legal fraternity in South India is not conversant with the two languages.

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‘Linguistic barriers, confusion’

“The nomenclature in Hindi and Sanskrit for these legislations would create confusion, ambiguity, and difficulty for the legal community of non-Hindi and non-Sanskrit speakers, especially those belonging to the southern part of the nation.

“Moreover, the names provided in the aforesaid languages are hard to pronounce for non-Hindi and non-Sanskrit speakers. Therefore, it violates the fundamental right under Article 19 (freedom of speech and expression) of the Constitution,” the petitioner has claimed.

He has also claimed that naming the three Acts in Hindi and Sanskrit is also against the mandate under Article 348 (Language to be used in the Supreme Court and in the High Courts and for Acts, Bills, etc.) of the Constitution.

Advocate Jeevesh has contended that Article 348(1)(b) mandates that all bills introduced in the legislative bodies and the acts passed by them shall be in the English language.

“Therefore, the action of the respondents 1 to 4 (Centre and Union Law Ministry) is a classic example of linguistic imperialism. The actions of the respondents 1 to 4 are autocratic, capricious, unjustified and arbitrary, and antithetical to the democratic values and the principles of federalism,” the petitioner has claimed.

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