The Chief Justice of India told the Central Government Thursday to consider amending the Official Languages Act 1963 for allowing publication of official notifications in languages other than Hindi and English, the second official language of the Government of India.
CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde made the recommendation while ruling on an appeal filed by the Union of India questioning the legality of a June high court judgment. The judgment directed the translation of a draft notification issued in March and published on the ministry website for comments and objections into at least the 22 languages contained in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the Official Languages Act and its Rules of 1973 require the usage of Hindi and English for resolutions, general orders, rules, notifications, etc. “The Constitution of India does not have any provision whereby it may be inferred that all the languages mentioned in the 8th schedule of the Constitution would be used as official languages of the Union,” the Central government’s submission before the Supreme Court said.
The Delhi High Court’s judgement was based on the reasoning that since the notification concerned environmental restrictions on infrastructural development across India, it must reach a wide number of people, including those in the non-Hindi speaking parts of India without discrimination. With the ruling, the court sought to ensure that the intent of public consultation was fulfilled.
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as withdrawn by the government with liberty to file a review petition before the high court.