Context

  • Part XVII of the Constitution with Articles 343 to 351 deals with Official Language

Language of the Union

  • Official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari
  • English language shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union.
  • Even after fifteen years, the Parliament may provide for the continued use of English language for the specified purposes
  • President should appoint a commission to make recommendations representing the different languages specified in the Eighth Schedule

Regional Language

  • legislature of a state may adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the state or Hindi as the official language of that state
  • Official Languages Act (1963)lays down that English should be used for purposes of communication between the Union and the non-Hindi states
  • MeghalayaArunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have adopted English
  • President of India (on a demand being made) is satisfied that a substantial proportion of the population of a state desires the use of any language spoken by them to be recognised by that state, then he may direct that such language shall also be officially recognised in that state

Language of the Judiciary and Text of law

  • Until Parliament provides otherwise, the following are to be in the English language only:
  • All proceedings in the Supreme Court and in every high court.
  • The Governor of a state, with the previous consent of the president, can authorise the use of Hindi or any other official language of the state, in the proceedings in the high court of the state, but not with respect to the judgements, decrees and orders passed by it.
  • The act also enables the Governor of a state, with the previous consent of the President, to authorise the use of Hindi or any other official language of the state for judgements, decrees and orders passed by the high court of the state but they should be accompanied by an English translation.
  • However, the Parliament has not made any provision for the use of Hindi in the Supreme Court. Hence, the Supreme Court hears only those who petition or appeal in English.
  • The authoritative texts of all bills, acts, ordinances, orders, rules, regulations and bye laws at the Central and state levels

Special Directives

Protection of Linguistic Minorities

  • Every aggrieved person has the right to submit a representation in any of the languages used in the Union or in the state, and those representations cannot be rejected on the ground that it is not in the official language.
  • Every state and a local authority in the state should provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother-tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups
  • The President should appoint a special officer for linguistic minorities to investigate all matters relating to the constitutional safeguards for linguistic minorities and to report to him.

 Development of Hindi language

  • The Constitution imposes a duty upon the Centre to promote the spread and development of the Hindi language so that it may become the lingua franca of the composite culture of India.
  • Language added to the 8th Schedule by the following Amendment –
Amendment Language Added
14 Languages initially included in the Constitution
  • (1) Assamese, (2) Bengali, (3) Gujarati, (4) Hindi, (5) Kannada, (6) Kashmiri, (7) Malayalam,  (8) Marathi,  (9) Oriya, (110) Punjabi, (11) Sanskrit, (12) Tamil, (13) Telugu, (14) Urdu
21st Amendment Act of 1967 Sindhi
71st Amendment Act of 1972 Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali
92nd Amendment Act of 2003 Bodo, Dongri, Maithili and Santhali

Committee on Official Language

  • The President shall, at the expiration of five years from the commencement of this Constitution and thereafter at the expiration of ten years from such commencement, by order constitute a Commission which shall consist of a Chairman and such other members representing the different languages specified in the Eighth Schedule as the President may appoint, and the order shall define the procedure to be followed by the Commission.
  • It shall be the duty of the Commission to make recommendations to the President as to –
    • The progressive use of the Hindi language for the official purposes of the Union;
    • Restrictions on the use of the English language for all or any of the official purposes of the Union;
    • The language to be used for all or any of the purposes mentioned in article 348;
    • The form of numerals to be used for any one or more specified purposes of the Union;
    • Any other matter referred to the Commission by the President as regards the official language of the Union and the language for communication between the Union and a State or between one State and another and their use.

Classical Language Status

  • The Constitutional provisions relating to the Eighth Schedule occur in 344(1) and 351 of the Constitution.
  • Once a language is declared classical, it gets financial assistance for setting up a centre of excellence for the study of that language and also opens up an avenue for two major awards for scholars of eminence.
  • The criteria for declaring a language as classical mandates high antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1,500 – 2,000 years, a body of ancient literature/texts which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers and a literary tradition that is original and not borrowed from another speech community.
  • List of Languages in the 8th Schedule
    • Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu,Bodo, Santhali, Maithili Dogri.
  • So far (2021), the six languages are granted the classical language status
Year Language
2004 Tamil
2005 Sanskrit
2008 Telugu
2008 Kannadda
2013 Malayalam
2014 Odia

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