Madras Bar Association passes resolution expressing ‘anguish’ over renaming in Hindi of 3 criminal laws

Following objections, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar referred the 3 Bills to Parliament's Standing Committee on Home Affairs.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Aug 26, 2023 | 8:48 AMUpdatedAug 26, 2023 | 8:48 AM

Madras Bar Association passes resolution expressing ‘anguish’ over renaming in Hindi of 3 criminal laws

The Madras Bar Association (MBA) has passed a unanimous resolution against the proposed renaming in Hindi of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Indian Evidence Act (IEA), and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) as Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Sakshya, and Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, respectively.

The BJP-led Union government introduced three different Bills in this regard in the recently-concluded monsoon session of Parliament.

At an Extraordinary General Body Meeting on 23 August, the Madras Bar Association expressed its “objection and anguish” over the naming of the Bills in Hindi.

On 11 August, Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill, 2023, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) Bill, 2023, and Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill, 2023, that will replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Criminal Procedure Act, 1898, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, respectively.

Following objections from several quarters, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar, on 18 August, referred the three proposed Bills to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Home Affairs for examination.

Also read: ‘Tamil Nadu will reject any form of Hindi hegemony, imposition’

‘Restore original names’

The MBA resolution said: “Naming the proposed bills in Hindi is against the provisions of the Constitution of India and it is further resolved that the suggestions/views for the said Bills will be sent shortly to the minister of law, government of India, with a request to reconsider and restore the original names of the aforesaid Acts.”

Madras Bar Association Resolution

According to MBA president VR Kamalanathan, the resolution was passed unanimously.

Various bar associations across the state, including the bar association of the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, have also condemned the renaming of the Bills.

They also boycotted the courts for a day in protest.

On Friday, 25 August, a section of advocates, including those belonging to the DMK, staged a demonstration outside the Madras High Court campus and its bench at Madurai to condemn the Union government for attempting to rename the three Bills in Hindi.

Earlier, DMK MP P Wilson had said that the move to rename the three criminal laws in Hindi violated Article 348 of the Constitution of India.

According to Article 348, the language to be used in the Supreme Court and in the high courts, and for authoritative texts like Bills and Acts in Parliament, should be English.

“This is yet another form of Hindi imposition. South Indian lawyers are going to spend most of the time in courts trying to pronounce these names,” Wilson had posted on X (formerly Twitter).

Also read: Will resist all Hindi imposition efforts, says MK Stalin

Attempt to shake unity of India: Stalin

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, too, had registered a strong protest against the Union government’s attempt to replace the criminal laws by introducing new Bills in Parliament.

Stalin charged that it was an attempt by the BJP-led Union government to tamper with the essence of India’s diversity through a sweeping overhaul that “reeks of linguistic imperialism”.

In a statement, he had lashed out at the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying they have no moral right to even utter the word Tamil hereafter, and the move was a deliberate attempt to shake the very foundation of the country’s unity.

“From the anti-Hindi agitations to safeguarding our linguistic identity, we have withstood the storm of Hindi imposition before, and we shall do it again, with unyielding determination. The fire of resistance against Hindi colonialism is ablaze once more. The BJP’s audacious bid to supplant our identity with Hindi will be opposed resolutely.”