Katju asks Jayalalithaa to resign if she cannot bring Tamil to Madras High Court

Katju tells Jayalalithaa to allow use of Tamil in courts or quit
news Saturday, September 26, 2015 - 17:18


Amidst the din of unruly protests by lawyers in the Madras High Court, one of the reasons for which the protests started in the first place, seems to have been forgotten. A group of lawyers from various districts of the state have been consistently demanding that Tamil should be allowed to use in Madras high court and other lower court proceedings, along with English.

Reminding the Chief Minister about this demand, former Chief Justice of the Madras HC, Markandeya Katju has written a letter to J Jayalalithaa. Actually, he has posted his message to Jayalalithaa on Facebook, and asked anyone who has the CM’s address to take a print out and give it to her.

Katju has in fact expressed surprise at the fact that Jayalalithaa has ‘not recommended to the Tamilnadu Governor and not spoken to the President of India to permit use of Tamil in the Madras High Court.’ He has also called the Bar Council of India’s decision to suspend 15 lawyers who indulged in violence as   â€˜asinine and dim witted’.

Here is the full text:

Letter to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister

Will someone please take a printout of this post, and give it to the Tamilnadu Chief Minister ( I do not have her email id otherwise I would have sent it to her by mail )

Dear Madam,

As the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu it is your duty to work for the welfare of the people of Tamilnadu.

As you know, Tamil Nadu lawyers have been agitating for a long time demanding that Tamil should be permitted in Madras High Court. This demand is totally justified. In fact Hindi is permitted in 4 High Courts in India, Allahabad, Patna, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. So there is no justification for not permitting use of Tamil in the Madras High Court

Tamil is a great language with a very old and rich literary heritage. Who has not heard of Tirukkural, Silapathihaaram, Manimekhalai, Kambar Ramayanam, Tiruppavai, etc and the modern great writers like Subramania Bharathi ? So Tamilians are proud of their language, and are justified in demanding that it be permitted in law courts. When I was a lawyer in Allahabad High Court I would often argue in Hindi, and as a Judge of the High Court I would often hear arguments in Hindi. Some Allahabad High Court Judges like Justice P.S.Gupta gave judgments only in Hindi, and some Allahabad High Court lawyers like Pt. Daya Shanker Mishra argue only in Hindi.

When I was Chief Justice Delhi High Court and even in the Supreme Court I would often speak in Hindi, and even a few sentences in Tamil.

I may mention that Article 348(2) of the Indian Constitution provides that proceedings in a High Court can be in the local language if the Governor ( meaning the Chief Minister, since the Governor acts on the advice of the C.M. ) so orders with the permission of the President of India. Section 7 of the Official Languages Act, 1963 even permits judgments and orders in the local language if the Governor permits.
I am surprised that as yet you have not recommended to the Tamilnadu Governor and not spoken to the President of India to permit use of Tamil in the Madras High Court.

I therefore call upon you to do so immediately or quit your post as Chief Minister. 

The situation is worsening as the Bar Council of India has stupidly suspended 15 High Court lawyers including the President/Secretary of the Madurai Bar Association, which is an asinine and dim witted decision as it will certainly aggravate the situation and lead to agitations by lawyers all over Tamilnadu and resultant closure of all Courts No doubt some lawyers did some untoward things during this agitation, but then one must also understand the strong sentiments and emotions prevailing.

The only way to salvage the situation is for you to immediately advise the Governor to permit use of Tamil in all Courts in Tamil Nadu, including the High Court, and to speak to the President of India too in this connection. Use of Tamil should of course be optional, and if a lawyer wishes to argue in English he should be allowed, and if the Judge does not know Tamil as he has come from outside the lawyer should argue in English, otherwise the Judge will not understand.

The ball is now squarely in your Court. Either give the advice to the Governor and speak to the President under Article 348(2) and s.7 of the Official Languages Act as suggested immediately, or quit as Chief Minister


Justice Markandey Katju

Former Judge, Supreme Court.
Former Chief justice, Madras High Court