The man, accused in a drug trafficking case, had sought bail on the grounds that at the time of his arrest, police had failed to communicate his statutory safeguards in a language that he understood.

Bombay High Court: Bombay HC calls Hindi 'national language' while denying man bail, he moves SCImage for representation: Wikimedia Commons/Sualeh Fatehi
news Court Sunday, February 20, 2022 - 14:07

A Telangana businessman accused in a drug trafficking case has approached the Supreme Court after his bail petition was rejected by the Bombay High Court, which called Hindi the ‘national language’ while doing so. The accused Gangam Sudhir Kumar Reddy, a Hyderabad resident who runs a tours and travels business, had claimed that at the time of his arrest, police had failed to communicate his statutory safeguards in a way that he understood, as they communicated in Hindi while he only knew Telugu. Rejecting his bail petition, the Bombay High Court in November 2021 had said in its order, “The applicant was communicated about his right in Hindi which is the National language.”

Sudhir had sought bail citing non-compliance with Section 50 (conditions under which search of persons shall be conducted) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. Rejecting his bail petition, the High Court order observed that language acquaintance and communication skills were basic requirements for someone operating a tours and travel business. 

Noting that Sudhir was apprehended from Mumbai, the High Court in its order said, “The fact that applicant was carrying out business of Tours and Travel, prompts this Court to believe at this stage that he must be aware about the topography and signals of the local language. As such, it can be presumed at this stage that the applicant was aware about Hindi language in which he was communicated about his right under Section 50 of the Act.” 

According to LiveLaw, Sudhir was arrested by the Anti-Narcotics Cell of the Mumbai Police in July 2019 after a commercial quantity of cannabis was found in a vehicle owned by his wife, in which he was travelling with his co-accused. He was booked under Sections 8(c) r/w Section 20(c) and 29 of the NDPS Act. 

In a Special Leave Petition filed before the Supreme Court, Sudhir has challenged the Bombay High Court’s observation, and contended that it failed to appreciate that Hindi is not the national language in India, according to Bar&Bench. The petition before the Supreme Court has claimed that not communicating his rights to the accused in a language he understands is a violation of his rights as per Article 22 of the Indian Constitution. 

According to LiveLaw, the petition challenges the High Court’s observation that Hindi is the national language and says, “India does not have a National Language and only official languages are there … The Constitution-makers did not accept Hindi as the National Language by the Constitution; the constitution has not laid down any language as the national Language.” 

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