Sixty-seven years after India’s independence, the common man in the national capital was able to get a court order in Hindi, rather than the court’s preferred language, English.
Family court judge S Jaychandran passed the order in Hindi in a divorce case earlier this week, after a Delhi-based couple pleaded that they be allowed to argue in Hindi as they didn’t understand English. The judge first wrote the order in English and then got it translated by a senior court staff. Incidentally, this happened a few days ahead of Hindi Diwas, celebrated across the country on September 14.
The couple got married in 1998 and have two children. The couple pleaded that since their thoughts didn’t match, they be allowed to discontinue the marriage.
They have been living separately since 2007. The court, however, gave them six months’ time to make the marriage work, failing which a final decree of divorce would be passed. The court gave the custody of both children to the wife.
The demand for Hindi as the official court language in Delhi has been pending for a long time. In 2009, a group of lawyers started a signature campaign in Delhi high court and five district courts, requesting they be allowed to argue cases in Hindi. The campaign collected about 5,000 signatures.
“Even Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution says that one can express himself in any language. Denying the use of Hindi in courts is a violation of this fundamental right,” said advocate Ashok Aggarwal. He said the use of English in courts has become “more of a status symbol”.
Even Article 348 of the Constitution provides for arguing court cases in English or any other regional language, he said.