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EDITORIAL

Importance of local languages

local languages

President Ram Nath Kovind has made a very important observation regarding the use of regional languages in court proceedings. Speaking at the special convocation of the Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law University in Chennai on Saturday, he has underlined the need for evolving a mechanism through which texts of judgements and court orders and directives are made available for the common people in the local or regional languages. While it will not be an easy task to immediately assure passing judgements and orders/directions in say Tamil, Assamese, or Bengali, what the President has suggested is that at least a system could be put in place through which certified translated copies of judgements and orders are made available by the High Courts in the local or regional languages. It is a fact that most of the people who are either complainants or accused in any case or litigation do not understand the entire content of a judgement or order because it is written in English, a language which most people in this country do not understand and cannot read or write. While everyone is said to be equal before the law, the law should also be framed in such a way that judgements and judicial orders are also equally accessible and understood by every citizen in his or her own mother tongue. Continuing from where President Kovind left, one must also demand that government notifications and orders are also made easily available in the local and regional languages. Similarly, discussions and seminars particularly intended at uplifting the socio-economic conditions of the common people should also be held in the local/regional languages. The prevailing custom is that most seminars and discussions aimed at poverty alleviation are held in the English language. In many instances, even government functionaries beyond a certain level do not understand the deliberations that are largely held in English. Doctors too should take to writing prescriptions in the local languages because most patients do not understand English. On a lighter vein, however, one can say that whether doctors write their prescriptions in English, Assamese, Bengali or Malayalam, they will all look the same, and a patient or his/her attendant will anyway have to take it to a pharmacist to decipher and decode the content and meaning.