The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to amend the Official Languages Act and include regional languages, other than Hindi and English, for publication of gazette and other official notifications, as people in some parts of the country do not understand either of the two languages.
The matter emanated from a Delhi High Court order on a petition seeking directions to the Ministry to publish the draft Environment Impact Assessment notification in multiple languages. The Centre had challenged the directions.
“We think the spirit in which the High Court has passed the order is correct. There may be people in Karnataka, rural Maharashtra, Nagaland and other places who may not understand the notification in English and Hindi,” said Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde as he stayed the contempt proceedings initiated against the Ministry of Environment and Forests before Delhi High Court.
“Your government could consider amending the Official Languages Act to include other languages as well. These days translation is the easiest thing to do with the help of Google,” CJI Bobde told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
He pointed out the top court’s experience in translating its judgments in different regional languages with the help of the software.
Apparently on a different page on the translation of original documents, the Solicitor General referred to attempts by Albert Einstein to translate Bhagavad Gita. "I'm quoting Einstein who tried to translate the Bhagvad Gita as a metaphysical treatise. He said translation is like the backside of an embroidery. Doesn't make sense.”
Asking the Solicitor General representing the ministry to keep pace with the changing times and needs, CJI Bobde said: “You should update the Official Languages Act.”
Urging the court to stay the June 30 order Solicitor General Mehta also reasoned that the ministry cannot go beyond the Rules, which say publication only in Hindi and English. He said the High Court order goes outside the ambit of official language rules.
Having appreciated the “spirit” of the High Court, the court permitted Solicitor General Mehta to withdraw the appeal and go back to the High Court to seek review of its order, with liberty to come back if aggrieved with the High Court order.