Karnataka HC advocates for balanced use of English, Kannada in government affairs

Choice of language to be used in governmental affairs is a matter of policy, convenience, practicality.
Karnataka HC.
Karnataka HC.File Photo

BENGALURU: Observing that there should be a blend of local and global language in running the government machinery, the Karnataka High Court said which language should be used in governmental affairs is a matter of policy, convenience and practicality.

While Kannada, which is a local language, has to be promoted and given importance, that itself cannot be a justification for the court to direct the state government and its departments to use Kannada language, the court said while dismissing a public interest litigation filed by a social worker seeking direction to the state government, including the Lokayukta, to use Kannada language at all levels and in all correspondences.

A division bench of Chief Justice N V Anjaria and Justice K V Aravind passed the order while dismissing the petition filed by Gurunath Vadde from Bidar. The petitioner’s counsel submitted that in rural areas, only Kannada is understood by the locals.

The court, however, said there is no denying, as was rightly submitted by the government advocate, that there has been extensive use of Kannada language in governmental affairs, correspondences and other communications.

“Wherever it is necessary, the use of the English language in addition to Kannada cannot be disbanded,” the court said adding, “Judicial pronouncements, law reports, statute books, important notifications and out-of-state or overseas correspondence are all in English language. There should be a requisite blend of local and global language in the running of government affairs.”

The court also stated that Kannada language may be endeared, but at the same time, the utility of the English language should not be overlooked or discarded. “English is an official language for use in the High Court under the constitution. There can be no universal formula as to whether one language should only be used in governmental affairs. At local levels, however, it is hoped that the government and the officers as far as possible, may use, promote and give prominence to Kannada language to sub-serve the culture and the people of Karnataka. It cannot be, but, a universal phenomenon,” the court observed.

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