- Part XVll — Art 343 to 351 deals with Official Languages.
- Provisions are divided into :
≫ Language of Union.
≫ Regional Languages.
≫ Language of the Judiciary & text of laws.
≫ Special Directives.
Language of the Union
- Hindi written in Devanagari script if to be the official language of the Union.
- Form of numerals to remain international form & not Devanagari.
- English may be used for 15 years from commencement of Const (till 1965).
- Parl may allow use of English after 15 yrs for specified purposes.
- Prez must appoint Commission at end of 5 yrs & 10 yrs of commencement of Const to report on progressive use of Hindi & restrictions on English.
- Parl Committee to be made to look into recommendations of Commission.
- A Commission was appointed in 1955 but not in 1960.
- Parliament enacted the Official Language Act in 1963 to allow the use of English & Hindi for official purposes of Union & Parliament indefinitely.
- Const doesn’t specify official languages of States, but makes following Provs :
- State Leg may adopt 1 or more lang used in the State or Hindi as Official Lang. Until then English continues to be Official Language.
- Choice of Lang not limited to the recognised lang under 8th Schedule.
- English is link lang between Union & States & among States. 2 or more States can agree to adopt Hindi as official lang to communicate between each other.
- President (on demand being made) may direct for official recognition of language if Prez is satisfied that a substantial proportion of the population in a State uses the language.
Language of Judiciary & Text of laws
- English is to be official language of all proceedings in SC & HCs, of all bills, Acts, Ordinances, orders, rules, regulations, bye-laws at Centre & State until the Parliament provides otherwise.
- Gov with consent of Prez, can allow proceedings in HC to be in another lang, but judgements, decrees, orders will be accompanied with English translations.
- State Leg can prescribe any lang for bills, Acts, Ordinances, orders, rules, regulations or bye-laws, but English translation must also be published.
- Hindi translation of Acts, Ordinances, orders, etc published under authority of Prez are authoritative texts.
- Every bill in Parl is accompanied with Hindi translations.
- Supreme Court only hears cases in English as use of other languages for proceedings will be unconstitutional.
Protection of Linguistic Minorities
- A person can submit a grievance to any officer or authority in any language used in the Union or the State even if the lang is not the official language.
- Every State & local authority should provide for facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary education to children belonging to linguistic minorities. The Prez may give necessary directions for this purpose.
- Prez must appoint a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities to ensure implementation of Constitutional safeguards for Linguistic Minorities.
- At present there are 22 recognised languages in 8th Schedule :
- Assamese / Bengali / Bodo / Dogri / Gujarati / Hindi / Kannada / Kashmiri / Konkani / Maithili / Malayalam / Manipuri / Marathi / Nepali / Odia / Punjabi/ Sanskrit / Santhali / Sindhi / Tamil / Telugu / Urdu.
- Sindhi added through 21st Amd 1967
- Konkani, Manipuri, Nepali through 71st Amd 1992
- Bodo, Dongri, Maithili, Santhali through 92nd Amd 2003.
- Members of these languages are given representation in Official Language Commission.
- The forms, style & expression of these languages are to be used to enrich Hindi Language.
Classical Language Status
- In 2004, Govt of India decided to create a new category of language called “Classical Language”.
- Criteria for inclusion in this category includes, high antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1,500 yrs to 2000 yrs, considered to valuable heritage by generations of speakers, and literary tradition that is original and not borrowed from another speech community.
- Currently there are 6 classic languages : Tamil (2004) / Sanskrit (2005) / Telugu (2008) / kannada (2008) / Malayalam (2013) / Odia (2014).
- Benefits : Classical Lang gets financial assistance to set up Centre of Excellence for study of that language. Also opens avenues for two major awards for scholars of eminence. UGC can be asked to create a certain number of professional chairs for classical languages in atleast Central Univs.