Rather than a language of communication, English has now become a class in itself. One of the contributing factors to this classist growth is the fact that the upper echelons of our polity have institutionalized English supremacy. Judiciary tops the list of such organizations, which out & out promote this elitist class language.
During his address to the joint conference of the Chief Ministers & Chief Justices of High Courts in Delhi, PM Modi reiterated his voice against the language intellectualism. Suggesting the judiciary to focus on the local language he said, “We need to encourage local language in courts. This will not only increase the confidence of common citizens in the justice system but they will feel more connected to it.”
His concern is related to the extensive & disproportionate use of the English language in the higher judiciary. It has become a trend in the courts, especially higher courts, to use ‘lavish’ words to show their intellectuality in court’s proceedings. The tough & uncommon choice of words in judicial pronouncements makes it difficult for the common public to understand the court’s proceedings. Moreover, they are left at the mercy of ‘intellectual’ lawyers to understand their own cases.
Article 348 of the Indian Constitution provides English to be used as the main language for all proceedings for the Supreme Court & High Courts. Further, Article 348 (2) of the Constitution provides for an exception to the use other than English. It states “Governor of a State may, with the previous consent of the President, authorize the use of the Hindi language, or any other language used for any official purposes of the state, in proceedings in the High Court”.
But, the trend set during British rule continued after independence & due to the constitutional obligation, it became a language of authority.
Over the years, the class language created for the purpose of convenience was turned into a language of intellectualism. The convent-read oligarchs thoroughly controlled the higher judiciary. Further, the collegium of these ‘Gentlemen’ created a Himalayan gap between citizens & justice.
A just society is a peaceful society. One of the foundational principles of a community’s existence is built on an efficient justice system. The degeneration of any society begins from its inefficient administration of justice.
The Indian constitution also promises social, economic & political justice to its citizens. So the judicial system needs to be very punctual in ensuring that people’s aspirations are protected as provided under the Constitution. Any deviation from this obligation will create a sense of discontentment against the nation-state. PM Modi’s suggestion to solve this gap between the judiciary & citizens through language hints in the same direction.