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21 February, 2016 00:00 00 AM
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Bangla yet to be used in judicial work

MUHAMMAD YEASIN

It's been five years since the Law Commission (LC) recommended use of Bangla in every activity of the judiciary to ensure its easy access for all. But the government is yet to take any initiative in this regard. In its report, the LC had stated that although Bangla has been declared as the state language of the republic in Article 3 of the Constitution, it is still neglected in courts even 59 years after the language movement of 1952. In its recommendation, the commission said that although Bangla Bhasha Procholon Ain (Bengali Language Implementation Act) was passed in 1987 to ensure compulsory use of Bangla in courts and offices, it is yet to be implemented. In spite of these provisions, English is still used in the judicial system. It has been seen that delivering judgments in English often creates confusion for the masses, as most of them speak in Bangla. The language of courts should follow the language of the common people, the commission said. The LC report said the three organs of the state --- the executive, legislature and the judiciary—- continue to use Bangla in their official work. In the case of Hasmat Ullah vs Azmeri Bibi and others, the High Court said the government did not make any declaration regarding Bangla under Section 137(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP). After this the authorities were not able to use Bangla in the daily activities of the judiciary. It stated that the CrPC and CCP were mainly responsible for creating obstacles in the use of Bangla in the daily activities of the judiciary. Section 137(1) of the CCP says that the language which, on the commencement of this Code, is the language of any court subordinate to the High Court Division, shall continue to be the language of such subordinate court, until the government directs otherwise.
Section 137(2) of the CCP says that the government may declare what  the language of any such court shall be, and in what characters the applications and proceedings in such court shall be written. On the other hand, Section 558 of the Criminal Penal Code (CrPC) states that the government may determine what–for the purposes of this code–shall be deemed to be the language of each court within the territories administered by it. Under these circumstances, the government could make two announcements under Section 558 of the CrPC, 1898, and Section 137(2) of the CCP, 1908, to start the use of Bangla in the judiciary, the LC report stated. The commission urged the government to take steps to use Bangla in the judiciary before the International Mother Language Day on February 21. It sent its recommendation to the law ministry on February 9, 2011. Former Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque, who is now the LC chairman, had delivered verdicts and orders in Bangla during his tenure as High Court judge. After his retirement, two or three HC judges sometimes delivered verdicts and orders in Bangla. Delivering verdicts in Bangla is not unprecedented in the Supreme Court. Benches sometimes conduct judicial proceedings, including delivery of verdict, in Bangla. But traditionally, it is English. Former Chief Justice Habibur Rahman, Justice ARM Amirul Islam Chowdhury, Justice Kazi Ebadul Haque, Justice Hamidul Huq, Justice Moazzem Hossain and Justice M Abdul Quddus delivered verdicts in Bangla in one or two cases, said Supreme Court lawyers. Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha recently said that judicial proceedings in the higher courts should be carried out in Bangla. “Bangla is widely used in the lower courts of Bangladesh, and the practice should be introduced in the higher courts as well,” said Sinha during a discussion titled ‘Mother Tongue and Local Culture’, which was held at the Supreme Court Bar Association auditorium on December 3 last year.  “A few High Court judges have already delivered verdicts in Bangla. I am also thinking of delivering some verdicts in Bangla,” said the Chief Justice.

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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