Official Language- Language of the Union and Regional Languages

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Part XVII (Art 343- 351) deals with Language of the Union and Regional Languages. Provisions are divided into four heads:

1. Language of Union:

  • Hindi written in Devanagari script is to be the Official Language with international form of Indian Numerals (Art 343)
  • English was allowed to be used for all official purpose for a period of 15 years (1950- 1965), with a rider that Parliament may provide for the continued use of English.
  • Subsequently, Official Language Act 1963 was enacted for the continued use of English. It lays down that English to be used for communication between the Union and a non-Hindi State.
  • Commission (Art 344): It also made provision for the appointment of a Commission by the President at the end of 5 years and 10 years to make recommendations for the progressive use of Hindi and restrictions on the use of English.
  • A Parliamentary Committee to be constituted to examine the recommendations of the Commission.

2. Regional Languages: 

  • Constitution does not specify any language as the official, and allows a State to adopt any language(s) as the Official Language of the State. (Not limited to VIII Schedule languages)
    e.g: Gujarat adopted Gujarati and Hindi,, J&K adopted Urdu (Art 345)
  • English to be the link language between the Union and the States. However, two States can use Hindi for communications by mutual agreements. (Art 346)

3. Language of Judiciary: 

  • All proceedings of SC and HC and authoritative texts of all bills, acts, orders, rules, etc to be in English only (until Parliament provides otherwise) (State legislature in State’s accompanied by English translation)
  • However, Governor (with the prior permission of the President) may authorize the use of any language in proceedings and judgments, decrees (accompanied by English translation) 

4. Development of Hindi and protection of linguistic minorities: 

Linguistic Minorities: 

  • The President may provide for the official recognition of any language by the State if a substantial proportion of the population so desires. 
  • The President should also appoint a Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the constitutional safeguards and report to him, which will be placed in the Parliament and to be sent to the State concerned. 

Development of Hindi:

  • The Constitution imposes a duty upon the Centre to promote the spread and development of Hindi language. (Art 351)
  • The Centre is directed to secure the enrichment of Hindi by assimilating the forms, style, used in other Indian languages (terms and vocabulary primarily from Sanskrit).
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