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Law

'Hindi Cannot Be Used for Official Correspondence With Tamil Nadu': Madras HC

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by Lok Sabha MP from Madurai, Su Venkatesan, who approached the HC after he received a reply from the Centre in Hindi to a representation made by him in English.

New Delhi: The Madras high court recently told the Union government that it is duty-bound to communicate in English with those states that have not adopted Hindi as their official language, news reports said.

“Any kind of fanaticism is not good for any society. Fanaticism, in any form, is to be condemned, if it is exhibited. Linguistic fanaticism is more dangerous as it would give an impression that one language alone is superior and being imposed upon the people speaking different languages,” the bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran (now retired) and M Duraiswamy observed.

Referring to the Official Languages Act 1963 and the Official Language Rules 1976, the court noted, “Once a representation is given in English, it is the duty of the Union Government to give a reply in English only which will also be in consonance with the statute, viz., the Official Languages Act.”

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“To put it in other words, the official language of India (Hindi) cannot be used for official correspondence with the State of Tamil Nadu,” the court said.

The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Lok Sabha MP from Madurai, Su Venkatesan, who approached the court after he received a reply from the Union government in Hindi to a representation made by him in English.

Venkatesan told the court that he had written back to the Union government to send the reply in English. However, after not receiving any response on the matter, he moved Madras high court.

Assistant Solicitor General L. Victoria Gowri, representing the government, submitted that the reply to Venkatesan had been inadvertently written in Hindi, the report said.

“There was no intention on the part of the Central government to violate any provision of the Official Languages Act, 1963 or Rules,” the court was told.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the judgment came on September 10, 2021. It was in fact delivered on August 19, 2021 and was made available recently.