USE OF BANGLA IN ALL OFFICES, COURTS
HC directive soughtM Moneruzzaman
A public interest litigation writ petition filed on Sunday sought a High Court directive on the government for the enforcement of the Bengali Language Introduction Act 1987 for the use of Bangla in all offices and courts.
The petition that Supreme Court lawyer Md Eunus Ali Akond filed in Bangla also sought an interim order for authorities to frame rules, and notify them, on the use of Bangla in keeping with Section 4 of the act.
Eunus sought another directive on the Supreme Court registrar to take steps to translate the Supreme Court of Bangladesh (High Court Division) Rules and the Supreme Court of Bangladesh (Appellate Division Rules) into Bangla.
He also sought a directive on the authorities to appoint translators in all offices and courts.
The bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice ABM Altaf Hossain posted the hearing on the petition for today.
The petitioner also sought secretaries to the cabinet division, and the ministries of law, home and cultural affairs, the Dhaka University vice-chancellor, the Bangla Academy’s director general and the Supreme Court registrar to be made respondents to the directives.
The petitioner said that Bengali Language Introduction Act 1987 was passed on March 8, 1987 as there Bangla is not used in all offices and courts although Article 3 of the constitution says, ‘The state language of the republic is Bangla.’
‘It is regrettable that the law is not in force anywhere or the law has not been publicised widely in 26 years,’ Eunus said.
He said that even the Supreme Court does not use Bangla for proceedings. The amended Rule 1 of Chapter IV of Part II of the Rules of the High Court, however, says that applications to the High Court will be in Bangla or English language.
Eunus said that laws were still being written in English.
Referring to Section 3(1) of the act, Eunus said that except in the case of foreign relations, in all other cases records and correspondences, laws, proceedings in court and other legal actions shall necessarily be written in Bangla, by government offices, courts, half-official and autonomous institutions everywhere in Bangladesh.
He referred to Section 3(2) of the act saying that people putting forward an appeal or petition at any of the institutions mentioned in sub-section 3(1), in any other language than Bangla will be considered illegal.
Eunus, referring to Section 3(3) of the act, said that managers or civil servants ignoring this act will be considered to be behaving in an unbefitting manner under the Civil Servant Order and Appeal Rules and steps may be taken against them according to the Civil Servant Order and Appeal Rules.
He referred to Section 4 of the act which says, ‘The government may make rules for the purpose of this act by notification in the official gazette. ‘
But no set of rules has so far been made in this direction, he added.
Supreme Court directives are needed as Article 3 of the constitution and the act continue to be breached with Bangla not being used everywhere, he added.
Referring to Article 31 of the constitution, Eunus said that no one could do anything except in accordance with law.
The act, however, has not been enforced in the Supreme Court which does not use Bangla in court proceedings.
Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman when he was the chief justice in 1993 initiated a study to establish whether Bangla could be used in the Supreme Court.
Justice Naimuddin Ahmed, in his report on the issue, submitted to the chief justice that year, said that most Supreme Court judges had favoured the use of English for court proceedings.
As the laws and the judicial system are inherited from English laws and legal system and as the highest judiciary follows the common law system, which is in English, the language of the court should be English, the judges argued.
Bangla, however, had been used in proceedings in lower courts since the enactment of the act in 1987.
Judiciary officials said that English had also been used in proceedings in lower courts since 1991 when the High Court in a verdict observed that English could also be used along with Bangla in court.
The High Court made the observations after an appeal was made after the rejection by lower courts of appeals in 18 cases across the country written in English.
A High Court bench of Justice ARM Amirul Islam Chowdhury and Justice AM Mahmudur Rahman delivered the verdict on November 28, 1991.
The Bengali Language Introduction Act does not have any clause overriding the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Civil Procedure which provide that English can be used in court proceedings, the court observed.
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