Bom HC | States have been given supremacy to decide upon language to be used by them; Art. 343 does not in any way interfere with that supremacy

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of B.P. Dharmadhikari, ACJ and N.R. Borkar, J. while dismissing a writ petition held that,

Union cannot exist without State and States therefore, form important part of consideration when language of Union is to be looked into. Thus, Parliament has in Section 3(5) of Official Language Act, 1963 envisaged resolution of discontinuance of use of English Language.

Petitioners stated that they are registered under the Society Registration Act, 1860 and also are Public Trust as per the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950 with the object of promoting the cause of Hindi language.

Further, they prayed to declare Official Language Act, 1963 unconstitutional or in the alternate to quash and set aside its Section 3(5) as unconstitutional

Counsel for the petitioner, V. V. Khemka stated that the subject of official language was deliberately not included in the 7th Schedule and doesn’t form part of the scheme commencing from Article 246 onwards upto Article 254 of Constitution of India.

Continuation of Official Languages Act, 1963 for the last 57 years is, contrary to Article 343.

Section 3(5) of the Official Language Act, 1963 continues the use of the English language for purposes of Chapter-I gave primacy to legislatures of all States and this treatment or primacy is unconstitutional.

Respondent contended that separate treatment given to official language in Part XVII itself militates the petitioner’s arguments.

High Court on perusal of the contentions placed by the parties, stated that,

Article 343(3) of the Constitution of India permits Parliament to bring a law to permit the use of English beyond the period of 15 years and when the said period was about to expire, Parliament thought it fit to bring into the Official Languages Act, 1963 and Section 3 of the said Act points out the circumstances in which user of English can be discontinued.

Bench stated that as far as Section 3(5) is concerned, it requires resolutions for discontinuance of use of the English language passed by legislatures of all States which have not adopted Hindi as their official language.

Article 345 itself begins with words “Subject to the provisions of articles 346 and 347” and empowers legislature of a State to adopt any one or more of the languages in use in that State or Hindi as the language for official purposes.

In so far as affairs of States are concerned, the States have been given supremacy to decide upon language to be used by them. Article 343 does not in any way interfere with that supremacy. 

Court found nothing unconstitutional in Section 3(5) of the Official Languages Act, 1963. [Rashtrabhasha Mahasangh v. Union of India,  2020 SCC OnLine Bom 417, decided on 12-03-2020]

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