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‘Reply In English Only’: High Court orders Centre to look into MP’s case

Chennai: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday instructed the Central government to strictly follow the Official Languages Act, 1963. According to the High Court, the Centre should respond in the language in which the state government submits the application to the Center. ‘Once a representation is made in English, it is the duty of the Union government to respond in English only’, the court ruled.

A division bench comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and M Duraiswamy issued the order following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Madurai Lok Sabha MP S. Venkatesh. ‘Tamil Nadu has not set up an examination centre in Pondicherry to conduct the written test to fill 780 vacancies in Group B and Group C. I urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to set up at least one examination centre in these areas in my petition filed on October 9. The Minister of State for Home Affairs responded in a letter written in Hindi on November 9. I did not know what they were saying,’┬áread the petition by Venkatesh.

After hearing the PIL, the Bench stated, ‘responding in Hindi is a violation of the law. Tamil Nadu continues to reply in Hindi to letters sent to the Central Government asking them to address their grievances. It violates constitutional rights and the Official Languages Act of 1963. MPs from non-Hindi-speaking states are violating constitutional rights. Thus, letters to the Government of Tamil Nadu, the Members of Parliament of Tamil Nadu, and the people of Tamil Nadu should not be written in Hindi. Government letters should only be sent in English. It should also take action against officials who violate the rule’.

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An order issued by the bench comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and M Duraiswamy stated, ‘Mother tongue is very important. Basic education should be provided in the mother tongue. However, the English language is given more importance in economic terms’.

According to the Bench, no matter what the message, it is complete only when understood in the mother tongue. ‘The government should recognize the importance of each language and take appropriate steps for its development, argued the Bench. The Indian Office Language Act also confirms this. However, the petitioner has been provided a reply in Hindi in this case’, the court said. The Central Government has stated it has no intention of breaking the rule.

 

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