The issue cropped up after Jameela Prakasham (Janata Dal) asked the Home Minister in Hindi about the assurance given by him in national language early this year.
Using Hindi in the Kerala Assembly on Tuesday by a legislator to underscore her point and the reply to it by Home and Vigilance Minister Ramesh Chennithala in the official language was objected to by Deputy Speaker N. Shaktan.
The issue cropped up after Jameela Prakasham (Janata Dal) asked the Home Minister in Hindi about the assurance given by him in national language early this year. At an all-India women police officers’ conference in the State capital, the Minister had announced that the strength of women in the police would be increased from the current 5 per cent to 10 per cent.
Even as the members were taken aback by the query tossed in Hindi, Mr. Chennithala replied in the national language that his commitment would be met and steps to post 60 women sub-inspectors and 120 women civil police officers were on. The strength of women will be raised to 10 per cent in phases.
The Deputy Speaker, who was in the chair during the question hour, said that Hindi could not be used in the House and it was against the rules. Amidst the commotion that prevailed, Minister for Electricity Aryadan Mohammed pointed out that Hindi had been used in the House along with other four languages earlier and the rule permitted it.
Following this, the Deputy Speaker said Hindi could not be used in the House and quoted Rule 305 that allowed only Malayalam, English, Kannada, and Tamil.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who intervened, said what the Chair said was correct and the rule had to be changed. “This will give a wrong message that we are against Hindi,” he pointed out. “No one is against Hindi. The Chair could not understand Hindi and the majority in the House cannot follow it,” the Deputy Speaker said before proceeding to the next scheduled business.
Meanwhile, Sunny Joseph gave a letter to Speaker G. Karthikeyan to amend Rule 305 (1) so that the legislators could use Hindi in the House.
This copy has been edited to incorporate the following correction:
The Corrections and Clarifications column on March 25, 2014 said that the column had lost count on the number of times it had to issue a correction in regard to “official language versus national language.” Now, a sentence in “Hindi is not an ‘official’ language in Kerala Assembly” (July 9, 2014, some Kerala editions) reads: “… the reply to it by Home and Vigilance Minister Ramesh Chennithala in the national language was objected to …” The reference is to Hindi. A vexed reader once again points out that Hindi is an official language — not national language. The reader is right.