Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu, led by the AIADMK, on Monday urged President Pratibha Patil to give her consent for the use of Tamil as the official court language in the Madras High Court before attending the World Classical Tamil Conference in Coimbatore on June 23.

A delegation of AIADMK Members of Parliament met the President and submitted a joint letter written by party general secretary Jayalalithaa, MDMK general secretary Vaiko and Tamil Nadu State CPI secretary T. Pandian, drawing her attention to the fact that the proposal was pending consideration for over three years.

The delegation comprised of M. Thambidurai, V. Maitreyan, K. Malaisamy, S. Semmalai, N. Balaganga, P. Venugopal, M. Anandan, S. Anbalagan, N.R. Govindarajar, A. Elavarasaran, K. Sugumar, P. Kumar and A. Ganeshamurthi. Three MPs – O.S. Manian, C. Rajendran and C. Sivasami – could not join the delegation as they were participating in the party's demonstration in various places.

Mr. Maitreyan told The Hindu that the President assured the delegation that she would forward the representation to the authorities concerned for appropriate action.

The Joint letter pointed out that the Tamil Nadu Assembly had passed a resolution as early as on December 6, 2006 for the introduction of Tamil as the court language. Thereafter, the proposal was sent to the Centre, which, on February 27, 2007, stated that it was not proper to introduce regional language in the orders, decrees and other proceedings in the court.”

It said that under Article 348 (2) of the Constitution, the Governor of a State, with the previous consent of the President, may authorise the use of Hindi or any other language in the proceedings in the High Court having its principal seat in that State.

Similarly, Section 7 of the Official Languages Act authorises the use of Hindi or the official language of the State, in addition to English language for the purpose of any judgment, decree or order passed by the High Court of the State.

It said “four States of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan use their respective official languages in their High Courts. With such a strong case, the Tamil Nadu government has not bothered to present the case for Tamil as a language of the High Court,” and appealed to the President to give her consent for the use of Tamil as the court language in the Madras High Court.

Constitutional mandate

Senior Supreme Court advocate Pandit Parmanand Katara in a statement said that while Hindi was being used in four High Courts, the denial of the same to lawyers in Tamil Nadu violated Articles 14 and 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution.

He was of the view that it was a constitutional mandate of Article 350 A of the Constitution to promote mother tongue at the primary stage and it would be a myth to say that the “doors of the court are open to all.”

He said, “The doors of the court are open only to those who know English language or those who have enough money to engage an English-speaking lawyer to fight their cause.” He wanted the President to give consent for making Tamil the court language in the Madras High Court.