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Petition in SC challenges mandatory imposition of Hindi as Official Court Language in Haryana under Haryana Official Language Amendment Act

Debayan Roy

A group of five advocates practising out of courts in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have challenged the Constitutionality of the Haryana Official Language (Amendment) Act, 2020 which is contended to have "arbitrarily" made Hindi as the official language of courts in Haryana.

Lawyers Sameer Jain, Sandeep Bajaj, Angad Sandhu, Suvigya Awasthi and Anant Gupta have assailed an Amendment made to Section 3A of the Haryana Official Languages Act, 1969, whereby Hindi has been designated as the sole official language to be mandatorily used for conducting all work in the civil and criminal courts in Haryana.

"English is a widely spoken language in our country and precluding its use before various Subordinate Courts is manifestly arbitrary with no legal rationale and having far reaching consequences for the people living and working in the State of Haryana."
the Petitioners contend.

The primary prayer of the petition is to strike down the amendment as violative of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution as it "creates an unreasonable classification between Hindi and non Hindi speaking advocates."

"It precludes the use of English which is used widely to conduct legal proceedings. This has impinged upon the right to freely practice the legal profession and earn a livelihood as guaranteed under Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution," reads the plea.

Arguing that the amendment was not fit for the state, the plea states that Haryana is an industrial hub and home to various multi national companies, where people from every strata of the society reside, the majority of whom are not fluent or conversant in Hindi.

"The amendment is with the assumption that everyone practicing law in Haryana not only know Hindi but are fluent with it. The amendment stating that imposing Hindi is for people of the state and necessary to get justice is "wholly irrational." says the petition.

Highlighting how mandatory Hindi could be problematic for lawyers, the plea states that "level of fluency and expertise needed to argue and represent a matter in Hindi is much more than a simple understanding of the language."

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