IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 23rd Sep 2020
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EDITORIAL HUNT #151 :“Need for a Linguistic Policy | UPSC“
Need for a Linguistic Policy | UPSC
Prashant Reddy T. is a lawyer
Making the language of the law comprehensible
The demand for greater availability of laws and public records in the 22 languages in the Schedule VIII is not a big ask
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : Schedules : Official Language
A language policy can serve 29 states, a taste of laws ,rules and regulations in the public domain with more ease and compatibility. Discuss -(GS 2)
- Recent litigations ( EIA 2020 )
- Why Translation is important ?
- A comparison with EU .
- RECENT LITIGATION : The language of Draft EIA 2020 published has brought much needed attention to the issue of official languages used by the central government in its functioning.
- THE TRIGGER : This debate has been litigation by citizens, who protested against the publication of the draft EIA notification in only English and Hindi.
- POLICY EXCLUSION : It excludes large number of Indians who do not speak Hindi or English from participating in the public consultation process.
- STATE’s RESPONSE : Arguing above statements the centre reacted that it is not required by the law to publish these notifications in the 22 languages mentioned in Schedule VIII.
- LEGAL UNCERTAINTY : One of the other reasons offered by the state to resist the translation is- “in the meaning of the words being obfuscated and often even lost”, thereby leading to greater legal uncertainty.
- AUTHORITATIVE TEXTS : It creates a legal mechanism to recognise authoritative translations of all central laws into languages mentioned in the Schedule VIII to the Constitution of India.
- TRANSLATIONS : The Legislative Department of the Law Ministry hosts these translations on its website.
- COMMUNICATION : Separate from the question of accuracy of translations is the larger policy question is regarding communication with the public.
- EXCOMMUNICATION : De facto, State ends up excluding non-English and non-Hindi speaking citizens from the law-making process only because of their linguistic identity.
- POLITICAL BATH : This issue is yet to garner the political attention it deserves despite the fact that since Independence, language has been one of the main markers of political identity in India.
- 56-DAY LONG FAST : The reorganisation of Indian States on linguistic lines in 1956 took place because of the agitations that followed the death of Potti Sreeramulu in 1952 for the Telugu State.
- LANGUAGE CHAUVINISM : The rise and success parties such as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Shiv Sena have been associated with linguistic pride, which sometimes can boil into language chauvinism against other linguistic minorities.
- LANGUAGE POLICY : At the very least, an inclusive language policy must be integral to the law-making and enforcement process.
- INCLUSIVE ACTIONS : This should include mandatorily publishing all parliamentary debates and associated records such as reports of parliamentary committees, the entire record of the Gazette of India, all legislation etc.
- ACCESSIBILITY : Offices such as the passport office, UIDAI should allow citizens to get identity cards in languages other than English and Hindi.
TRANSLATIONS AS LEGAL RIGHT
- COMPULSIONS : In many of the cases outlined above, it is reasonable to argue that citizens are not bound by laws that are not made available to them in their local language.
- HARLA V. STATE OF RAJASTHAN, 1951 : The Supreme Court of India in the past has ruled that citizens are not bound by laws which have not been published and publicised.
IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
- ATTAINABILITY OF LAW : The demand for greater availability of laws and public records in the 22 languages in the Schedule VIII is not a big ask.
- MULTI-LINGUISTIC JURISDICTIONS : In other multi-linguistic jurisdictions such as the European Union (EU), all EU-level official documents are made available in all 24 official languages of members .
- RESPECTING LANGUAGES : EU has a policy in place to respect the linguistic diversity of its member nations.
It is not too late to put in place such a policy but this is unlikely to happen unless political parties such as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam make it a national issue .
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Need for a Linguistic Policy | UPSC