“Be it language, race, religion or region, any discrimination would definitely cause an uprising in the society which may lead to splitting of the country which should be avoided,” the Madras high court held while directing the Union Government to abide by the provisions of official languages Act 1963, and the Official Languages (Use for Official Purpose of the Union) Rules, 1976, which insists on the usage of English for communication between the Union and the States, which have not adopted Hindi as an official language.
A division bench comprising Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice M Duraiswamy made the observation on a PIL moved by a Member of Parliament from Tamil Nadu challenging a reply given to him in Hindi despite him asking a question in English. Incidentally, after a court notice in such regard, the Union claimed that it was an inadvertent mistake.
“Even if an inadvertent mistake is made regarding the use of language that will be a cause for many issues in the society. Therefore, the Central Government is duty-bound to follow the provisions of the official languages Act,” the bench held.
However, pointing out that it should not be taken that this Court is only for English and not for the Indian languages, the bench also held “Thrust is to be given to education in the mother tongue like that of English language. Knowledge in English is for economic reasons. The knowledge of mother tongue is for expressing one's own expressions in the mother tongue. Without understanding anything in the mother tongue, one's knowledge will not be completed. The Central Government should continue to use English along with Hindi which can act as a binding force.” Also, pointing out that though it has been stated that inadvertently a reply was given in Hindi, the authorities have not categorically stated that herein afterward, there will not be any violation of the Official Languages Act, 1963 and the Official Languages Rules, 1976, the bench led by Justice Kirubakaran said “Any kind of fanaticism is not good for any society. Fanaticism, in any form, is to be condemned, if it is exhibited. Linguistic fanaticism is more dangerous as it would give an impression that one language alone is superior and being imposed upon the people speaking different languages.” “When even an apprehension should not be created that a particular language is surpassed or side-lined in a multi-linguistic country like ours, a few chosen languages are getting princely status with enormous money allotted for development of those languages alone,” the court lamented.
“It is also settled position of law that whenever land acquisition proceedings are initiated, as per the Act, 4(1) Notification should be issued in dailies in vernacular languages and in English. The purpose of publication in vernacular languages is only to see that the information regarding cases reaches the local people, particularly, the landowners who are likely to be affected,” the bench added.
The court also held that it is clear that one is entitled to submit a representation to any Agency or Officer of the Union or the States in any of the languages used in India or in the States and once a representation is given in English, it is the duty of the Union Government to give a reply in English only which will also be in consonance with the statute, viz., the Official Languages Act.