Today, the Supreme Court of India was hearing a petition seeking directions against the 2012 decision of the top Court, which refused to give permission to use Gujarati as an additional language in Courts. The matter was heard today (November 28, 2023) by a two-judge bench comprising Justice SVN Bhatti and Justice Sanjiv Khanna. The bench dismissed the petition and upheld the August 2023 decision of the Gujarat High Court, which also dismissed the public interest litigation petition terming it as ‘wholly misconceived’.
The plea addressed today sought that the State Government be directed to implement the Governor's order, which authorized Gujarati to be used in court proceedings as an additional language in the court proceedings, provided that the State Government implements the same. Earlier in the November 2022 hearing, the HC observed that allowing Gujarati language as an additional language in the court proceedings would have a large-scale effect. Initially, Rohit Jayantilal Patel, the petitioner, argued that the SC had no role in the matter as well as challenged the Cabinet Committee’s 1965 resolution introducing the role of the Chief Justice of India in connection with the use of regional languages in the HC.
While rejecting the prayer, the HC stated that “The issue, if any, can be raised by the writ petitioner would not fall within the realm of jurisdiction of this court…Even a decision of the CJI taken on the administrative side is binding on the HC so if you have any kind of dispute regarding an administrative decision of the CJI, you have to go to the SC.” During the SC proceedings today, Justice Khanna said that access to justice is not affected only because the Gujarati language is not an additional language in the court. He further added, “We are very clear, There is no withdrawal of access of Justice…Look, the things have worked, People have the right to access to justice. We go out of the way in case there is any person facing difficulty. We do that. We also hear arguments wherever required by the petitioners-in-person in the vernacular.”
The bench also questioned the petitioner’s counsel regarding the significance of such an argument and dismissed the petition by upholding the HC’s decision.