Even as a section of lawyers in the State are on fast demanding the introduction of Tamil as the court language in the Madras High Court, it has come to light that the Union Law Ministry has already sent to the Union Home Ministry for appropriate action under Article 348 of the Constitution, the Tamil Nadu government's proposal in this regard.
Highly placed sources told The Hindu that the State government proposal was pending with the Union Home Ministry for over six months. On getting the request from the State, the Centre sent it to former Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan for his response.
Mr. Justice Balakrishnan rejected the proposal saying: “The Supreme Court and all High Courts should have a common language. English should continue to be the language of the Supreme Court and all the High Courts until in due course Hindi becomes rich and ripe enough to take its place and regional languages should not be introduced as languages of High Courts.
“If regional language is permitted to be used in orders, decrees and other proceedings of the High Court, it will create difficulties for the judges who may not know the regional language in discharge of their judicial functions. The translation being a costly affair may not be accurate and may not reflect the true import of the judgment or order of the High Court. This will cause delay in disposal of cases in Supreme Court.”
Mr. Justice Balakrishnan was of the view that since the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court would be from outside, as per the policy of the government, and as there would be transfer of judges from other High Courts as well, they would find it difficult if the proceedings were allowed in Tamil.
A Parliamentary Committee on Ministry of Law and Justice, headed by E. M. Sudarsana Natchiappan that took up the matter did not agree with the views of the then CJI for rejecting the proposal. It noted that Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan had been granted the right to conduct proceedings in their High Courts in their official language, which, for all of them, was Hindi. There was no reason why Tamil Nadu could not get such a right to conduct the proceedings in Tamil.
After the proposal was rejected, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had represented before the then Union Law Minister and the then Home Minister for reconsideration of the matter.
The Law Ministry felt that as a similar request from West Bengal for the introduction of Bengali as the court language in the Calcutta High Court had been turned down, it wanted the issue to be dealt by the Home Ministry under Article 348 of the Constitution (language of the Supreme Court and High Courts shall be in English).