In May, Tamil Nadu CM Stalin had requested for Tamil, the official language of the state, to be used in the Madras High Court. The request is still to come through but close on heels, comes a similar petition by Gujarat High Court Advocates Association (GHCAA). The legal body has submitted a request to Gujarat governor Devvrat Acharya seeking permission to use Gujarati for High Court proceedings.
Under Article 348 (2) of the Indian Constitution, the governor of any state with the previous consent of the President, can allow the use of Hindi or any other language used for any official purposes of the State, in proceedings at the High Court.
GHCAA president, Asim Pandya, told Vibes of India, “It is paradoxical that while, on the one hand, we are celebrating the 75th year of Independence from British Rule, on the other, the official language of legal transaction remains English.”
In its plea, the GHCAA reiterated that non-recognition of Gujarati as the official language restricts access to justice for people who do not understand English. This also necessitates translated copies of all documents in Gujarati, which turns out be a cost-intensive and time-consuming affair.
The representation further raised another aspect linked to the use of English: “…the issue of getting documents or records of proceedings translated in English arises frequently when non-Gujarati judges or a Chief Justice is appointed to Gujarat High Court. Such insistence on providing translated copies of annexures/documents that are in Gujarati without creating an ‘Official Translation Department’ in the High Court Registry would be unjust, improper, arbitrary and unwarranted. The litigants and their advocates are left in a quandary without official translators being made available to them.”
The GHCAA further stressed that the petitions have more than 50 pages (excluding the memorandum). The current translation rate from Gujarati to English is Rs 90 to Rs 120 per page. Hence, an average petition’s translation is pegged between Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000.