A Pan India Organisation of Lawyers, Akhil Bhartiya Adhivakta Parishad has initiated a signature campaign upon receiving feedback and recognizing the need of the people from various regions of the country. The signatories urge the government to make all the official documents available in all Languages of Schedule VIII of The Constitution of India. This comes as an urge because there is a significant portion of Indian citizens who are complacent with neither English nor Hindi. In this case, it becomes extremely difficult for them to understand the issued Government communication. This deprives them, “participating in the law-making process which is ‘sin-qua-non’ to a ‘functional democracy”
The representation by ABAP has more than five thousand legal professionals from all 28 states and 9 Union Territories. “Various legal luminaries, including elected representatives of Bar Associations, Bar Council Members, retired judges, Senior Advocates, etc. From more than 600 districts spread across the length and breadth of ‘Bharat’ have signed this petition. The data collected, exhibits the interests of the legal fraternity speaking more than 51 languages as their mother tongue. In the said representation, around 35%signatories are Women Advocates and more than 40% are young advocates practicing in different courts/tribunals across the country”.
A significant point to note that a large number of endorsements came from Hindi speaking legal professionals as they can understand what their non-Hindi speaking colleagues might face.
The aim of the signatories is to enable the public at large to understand the official government communications published Notifications/ Bills/Government Orders/ Gazettes etc. in the 22 Scheduled languages. It is also their strong belief that taking this step would be a true reflection of “Bhartiya Values” endorsed by the Government and will also be a step to strengthen “Bhartiya Bhasha” in the land.
This is not the first step that the ABAP has taken in this regard. In August 2020, the lawyer run organization had drafted a notice to the Prime Minister urging him to take notice of Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2020” published by the Union Government. It was their earnest request to publish the Notification in all the languages in Schedule VIII of the Indian Constitution. Failure to do so resulted in people who were not well-versed in Hindi or English to ignore this Notification.
“The citizens of India have a ‘Right to Know’ and a ‘Right to participate”’ in the Nation-building process which can be ensured only if the Government communicates with its citizens in their local languages., the letter read.
They also highlighted the fact the publication in a medium of local languages was the only way to fructify the “Public consultation process”. They also said communication of information in a foreign or alien language could appear to be “concealment of information”
The letter further read, “The citizens also have a ‘Right to Access ‘to the Government policies. Citizens have a ‘Right to Communicate’ with their Government machinery in their local language. It is further submitted that the ideals of ‘Samjnana’ (collective consciousness), thorough unity of thought, assembly, and policy can be achieved by making all the Governments official communications available in Schedule VIII languages.”