The Supreme Court of India declined to consider a petition seeking recognition of Gujarati as an additional language in court proceedings in the Gujarat High Court on November 28, 2023. The petition was filed by Rohit Jayantilal Patel, who argued that the High Court’s decision to dismiss his previous petition was “misconceived.”
Patel’s initial petition sought a directive against the State Government to implement a 2012 decision by the then-Governor of Gujarat, which allowed the use of Gujarati alongside English in court proceedings. However, the Gujarat High Court dismissed the petition, stating that the Supreme Court had already expressed disapproval of the use of Gujarati in the High Court.
Patel challenged this decision, arguing that the Supreme Court had no role in the matter. He also challenged a 1965 resolution of the Cabinet Committee introducing the role of the Chief Justice of India in the matter of using regional languages in the High Court.
The High Court rejected Patel’s prayer, stating that the issue could only be raised by the writ petitioner and did not fall within the realm of the High Court’s jurisdiction. The High Court also noted that the decision of the Chief Justice of India is binding on the High Court.
During today’s proceedings, Justice Sanjiv Khanna questioned the significance of the argument, stating that access to justice is not affected by the absence of Gujarati.
Despite attempts by Patel’s counsel to convince the bench, Justice Khanna reiterated that the bench was not entitled to entertain the prayer, emphasising that there was no denial of access to justice.
“We are very clear. There is no withdrawal of access of Justice….Look, the things have worked. People have the right to access to justice. We go out of the way in case of there is any person facing difficulty. We Do that. We also hear arguments wherever required by the petitioners-in-person in the vernacular,” Justice Khanna said.