Punjab & Haryana HC notice to state on PIL for making Punjabi court language

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court today put its Registrar and the Punjab Government on notice on a public interest petition (PIL) for conducting the work in the subordinate courts and tribunals in the Punjabi language.As the matter came up for hearing, the Bench of Justice SS Saron and Justice Gurmit Ram also issued a notice for August 9 to the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary, Department of Home Affairs and Justice. The petition has been filed jointly by advocate HC Arora and Mitter Sain Goyal of Ludhiana.They were seeking the quashing of the letter dated February 5, 1991, issued by the High Court Registrar, vide both civil and criminal courts in Punjab were directed to treat English as the court language.The petitioners also referred to Section 3-A of the Punjab Official Language (Amendment) Act notified on November 5, 2008. It said that on the expiry of six months from the date of notification, work would be done in Punjabi in all civil and criminal courts subordinate to the High Court, all revenue courts and rent tribunals or any other court or tribunal constituted by the state government.It was further mandated that the administrative departments concerned of the state government would make arrangements to provide necessary infrastructure and training to the staff concerned in order to ensure the use of Punjabi in all courts and tribunals within six months.The petitioners claimed that despite a lapse of more than eight years, the statutory provisions had not been implemented as the Registrar of the High Court had not issued revised instructions to the subordinate courts in the light of the 2008 amendment.The petitioners added that the state government could determine the language to be treated as official in the courts subordinate to the High Court. As such, the notification dated November 5, 2008, issued by the state government, was binding on the subordinate courts.The petitioners further stated in the PIL that that most of the litigants before the district courts did not understand English. So, they could not comprehend what was transpiring in the court proceedings.

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