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THE COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT ON OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

 

Mahatma Gandhi, in his address to the Gujrat Education Conference at Bharuch in 1917 had stressed the need of a national language and expressed that Hindi is the only language which could be adopted as national language because this is a language  spoken by majority of  the Indians. It has the potential of being used as an economic, religious and political communication link. The Constitution makers had deliberated  the issue of Official Language in detail at the time of framing the Constitution and it was decided that Hindi in Devanagari script should be adopted as the official language of the Union. This is the basis of declaring Hindi as the Official Language of the Union under Article 343(1). At the time of framing and adoption of the Constitution, it was envisaged that English will continue to be used for executive, judicial and legal purposes for an initial period of 15 years i.e. till 1965. Besides, it was provided that the President may authorise the use of Hindi language for some specific purposes.

 

2.            The period of 15 years was prescribed after detailed deliberation so that  necessary arrangements could be made for smooth language transition. The Constitution makers were conscious that language transition in all the fields may not be possible by 1965. They also had the farsight to allow the use of English alongwith Hindi during the first 15 years.

 

3.            Article 351 of the Constitution speaks of the development of Hindi as the Official Language of the Union. The framers of the Constitution had envisaged that Hindi with the help of other Indian Languages would evolve as a composite language, capable of being accepted by people living in non Hindi speaking regions.

 

4.            In 1963, the Official Languages Act was enacted providing for the continued use of English even after the year 1965.  The Act also provided that the use of English for correspondence by the Central Government with the States may be discontinued only after the legislatures of all non-Hindi speaking States passed resolutions for such discontinuance and after considering these resolutions, the two Houses of Parliament passed similar resolutions.  The Act further provided that in the interregnum, for certain specified purposes Hindi alone may be used and for some other purposes both English and Hindi be used.  The Official Language Rules were framed in 1976.

 

5.            The said Act inter alia  provided for the setting up of a Committee on Official Language to review the progress made in the use of Hindi for the official purpose of the Union. Under section 3 of the Official Languages Act 1963, this Committee was to be constituted after ten years of the promulgation of the Act. This Committee was set up in 1976 under section 4 of the Act. This Committee comprises of 30 members of Parliament, 20 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha. Later, the Committee was reconstituted after the 1977, 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 & 2004 Lok Sabha polls. The functioning and activities of the Committee are contained mainly in section 4 of the Official Language Act.  Section 4 of the Official Language Act is reproduced below for ready reference:

 

“(1)        After the expiration of ten years from the date on which Section 3 comes into force, there shall be constituted a Committee on Official Language, on a resolution to that effect being moved in either House of Parliament with the previous sanction of the President and passed by both Houses.

 

(2)          The Committee shall consist of thirty members, of whom twenty shall be members of the House of the people and ten shall be members of the Council of States to be elected respectively by the members of the House of the People and the members of the Council of States in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

                                 

(3)          It shall be the duty of the Committee to review the progress made in the use of Hindi for the Official purposes of the Union and submit a report to the President making recommendations thereon and the President shall cause the report to be laid before each House of Parliament and sent it to all the State Governments.

 

(4)          The President may, after consideration of the report referred to in sub section (3), and the views, if any, expressed by the State Governments thereon, issue directions in accordance with the whole or any part of the report:

     Provided that the directions so issued shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of Section 3”.

 

6.                     The Chairman of the Committee is elected by the members of the Committee.  As a convention, the Union Home Minister has been elected as Chairman of the Committee from time to time.

 

7.            The Committee is required to submit its report alongwith its recommendations to the President after reviewing the position regarding the use of Hindi in Central Government Offices on the basis of its observations.  Apart from adopting other methods for assessing the factual position, the Committee decided to inspect certain Central Government offices representing various fields of activities to motivate the Central Govt. offices to adopt maximum usage of Hindi so that the objectives of the Constitution and Official Language Act provisions could be achieved.  With this end in view, the Committee set up three sub-Committees and for the purpose of inspection by the three sub-Committees, the various Ministries/Departments etc. were divided into three different groups. Till date, these three sub- Committees have inspected 8649 Government of India offices situated in the country and some of those located abroad.

             

8.            Further, in order to assess the use of Official Language for various purposes and other matters connected therewith, it was also decided to invite eminent persons from various fields such as from education, judiciary, voluntary organizations and the Secretaries of the Ministries/Departments etc., for oral evidence.  So far about 826 eminent personalities from various fields tendered their evidence before the Committee.

 

9            The progressive use of Hindi in the Central Government offices is being reviewed by the Committee in the background of the provisions relating to Official Language as provided by the Constitution; the Official Language Act, 1963 and the Rules framed thereunder. The Committee also takes note of the circulars/instructions etc. issued by the Government in this regard from time to time.  The terms of reference of the Committee being comprehensive, it has also been examining  other relevant aspects like the medium of instructions in schools, colleges and the universities; mode of recruitment to Central Government services and medium of departmental examination etc. Taking into consideration the magnitude of various aspects of the Official Language policy and keeping in view the present circumstances, the Committee in its meeting held in June, 1985 and August, 1986 decided to present its report to the President in parts; each part relating to a particular aspect of the Official Language policy. 

 

10.                   The Committee, in the first part of the report, decided to go into the translation arrangements and various aspects thereof in the offices of the Central Government and make recommendations thereon. Accordingly, the Committee submitted to the President in January, 87 the first part of its report relating to translation arrangements in offices of the Central Government.  After placing the Report on the table of the two Houses of Parliament and sending it to the State Governments, the Government has taken necessary action on the recommendations made in this part of the Report.  In this connection,  the Presidential orders have already been issued by the Department of Official Language on 30th Dec., 1998.

 

11.                   The second part of the Report pertaining to the use of Hindi and English in the mechanical aids in the Central Government Offices was submitted to the President in July, 87.  This report has also been laid on the table of the two Houses of Parliament and necessary action on the recommendations made therein has been taken by the Government. The Presidential orders in this connection have also been issued by the Department of Official Language on 29th March, 1990.

 

12.                   The third part of the Report of the Committee relating to arrangements for teaching of Hindi to Central Government employees and training of Central Government employees through the medium of Hindi etc.  was presented to the President in February, 89.  The Presidential orders in this connection have been issued by the Department of Official Language 4th Nov., 1991.

 

13.                   The fourth part of the Report relating to the position of use of Hindi in the Government offices and undertakings in the various parts of the country on the basis of the inspections conducted by the three sub- Committees of the Committee was submitted to the President in November, 89.  The Presidential orders have  been issued in this connection by the Department of Official Language on 28th January, 1992.

 

14.                   The fifth part of  the Report presented by the Committee relates to the language of legislation and the language being used in various courts and tribunals etc.  The said part was submitted to the President in March, 92.  Presidential orders have been issued in this connection by the Department of Official Language on 24th Nov. 1998.

 

15.                   The sixth part of the Report of the Committee was presented to the President on 27th November, 97.  This part is regarding the progress made in the use of Hindi in the Central Government Offices and use of Hindi in the correspondence between Union and State Governments and Union and Union Territories and use of Official Language in correspondence between States and Union Territories.  Besides, position regarding use of Hindi in Central Government Offices located abroad has also been reviewed in this part.  The Presidential  order on this report have been issued by Department of Official Language on 17th Sep., 2004.

 

16.                   The Committee has submitted the seventh part of its report to the Hon’ble President on 3rd May,2002. In this part of the report, Committee has made recommendations regarding Propagation of Hindi for official purposes; the position of Hindi in the field of Law; original use of Hindi in Government work; availability of publications relating to Administration and Finance in Hindi; position emerging after discussion with representatives of the States and UTs; The status of Hindi in the perspective of Globalization and the challenge of Computerization to Hindi etc. Presidential orders on this report have been issued by the Deptt. of Official Language on 13th July, 2005.

 

17.                   On 16.08.2005 the Committee of Parliament on Official Language submitted the Eighth Part of the Committee’s Report to the Hon’ble President. The Eighth Part of the Report submitted by the Committee consists of four Sections. The first Section sheds light on the constitution and activities of the Committee of Parliament on Official Language; the follow up action taken on the last seven parts of its Report and an outline of the Eighth Part. In the second Section of the report an analysis has been made of the information obtained during the inspections conducted by the Committee from 01 January, 2002 to 31 March, 2005. It includes a Ministry-wise and Region-wise evaluation of the position of compliance of Section 3(3) of Official Language Act. 1963, Rule 5 of Official Language Rules, 1976, Presidential Orders in respect of correspondence in Hindi, Publication, Codes/Manuals and Training etc. In addition, a summary of the discussion held by the Drafting and Evidence Sub-Committee with various Town Official Language Implementation Committees has also been presented. In the third and important Section of the Report, the Committee, on the basis of its experience, has reviewed the position of purchase of Hindi Books, Computerization, provision in the Recruitment Rules for compulsory knowledge of Hindi, position of Hindi posts, availability of Hindi medium in the educational and training institutes, expenditure on Hindi advertisements in the Central Offices and use of Hindi in the commercial activities of the Public Sector Enterprises. In the fourth Section of the Report, the Committee has presented its recommendations on the basis of the conclusions drawn by it in the chapters included in the first three Sections of the Report.

 

18.                   The Secretariat of the Committee is located at 11, Teen Murti Marg, New Delhi.  The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary of the Committee.  The Secretary is assisted by the three officers of the level of Under Secretary  and other officials. They extend all required assistance in performing the various activities of the Committee. For administrative purposes this office is subordinate office of Department of Official Language, Ministry of Home Affairs.

 
   
   
 
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