'Want Tamil as Official Language of Madras HC': CM Stalin in Letter to PM, CJI

The Tamil Nadu chief minister also sought for increased social diversity in the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary as well as the setting up of regional benches of the Supreme Court.

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New Delhi: Tamil Nadu chief minister M.K. Stalin on Thursday, May 12, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana requesting a series of changes to the country’s judiciary, including for Tamil to be declared the official language of Madras high court.

Reiterating demands that he had put forth at a high tea event hosted by the CJI last month, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief also sought for “social diversity and justice” to be applied to the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts and for regional benches of the top court to be set up in New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Stalin, in a letter addressed the the Prime Minister and the CJI, held that allowing the Madras high court – as well as its Madurai bench – to accept Tamil as its official language in addition to English would make access to justice available to a larger section of society.

Further, the Tamil Nadu chief minister questioned why the local languages in all states are not accepted as official languages in their high courts.

“Moreover as a language that is both Classical and a vibrant modern language it would be perfectly suitable to use Tamil in the High Court. Further, making law and justice comprehensible to the common man in the court proceedings is essential in the justice delivery system,” news agency PTI quoted Stalin as saying.

In the recent past, Stalin has emerged as a vehement opponent of the Union government’s ostensible push towards ‘Hindi imposition’. 

On April 7, Union home minister Amit Shah had urged citizens from different parts of the country to communicate with one another in Hindi and sought for it to be made the ‘official language’. His remarks drew criticism from various corners, including stiff resistance from the opposition.

In response to Shah’s statements, Stalin had argued that the thrust towards Hindi goes against India’s ‘integrity and pluralism’ and on Twitter, the chief minister said that Shah’s statement was an “act of hunting for the unity of India”.

“You will make the same mistake over and over again. But you will not succeed in that,” Stalin’s tweet read.

Diversity in the higher judiciary

In his letter, Stalin argued that the hierarchical structure of the Indian judiciary, with the Supreme Court at the top, exists only to ensure judicial discipline and so all courts follow judgements passed by the apex court.

However, he argued that the judiciary should also abide by the spirit of “cooperative federalism” as enshrined in the constitution.

Also read: We Need Annual Diversity Statistics for the Judiciary

As such, Stalin called for the Supreme Court and the high courts to reflect India’s diverse, pluralistic society, saying that the last few years have seen a growing “diversity deficit” in the country’s higher judiciary.

He wrote that the diversity of various sections of Indian society can only be reflected in the judiciary only if a “broad-based, heterogeneous” group of judges is present in the courts. He also said that this is particularly relevant while adjudicating matters of history, tradition, language and culture.

He went on to request Prime Minister Modi and CJI Ramana to include a mandate for maintaining social diversity in appointments to the higher judiciary in the Memorandum of Procedure for appointing judges.

“I am of the firm view that all states must find proportional representation on the Bench of the Supreme Court. It will then truly reflect the diverse nature of Indian society in its various dimensions,” he said.

Finally, Stalin sought for permanent regional benches of the Supreme Court to be created to allow for more Indians to access the apex court without having to travel to the national capital, which becomes particularly pertinent when one appeals a decision of a high court.

(With PTI inputs)