Author : Chirantan Priyadarshan of Amity Law School
The Jammu and Kashmir official languages bill, 2020 was introduced by the central government before Lok Sabha on 22 September 2020 with the key objective to include Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi as the official languages in the newly created union territory after the enactment of the Jammu and Kashmir reorganization bill of 2019 on 6th August 2019 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh into two separate union territories.
Before that there were only two official languages of the former state which were English and Urdu. The bill seeks to add the three other languages (Hindi, Kashmiri and Dogri) bringing up to the total of 5 official languages.
On the debate on the languages bill the minister of the state for home G. Krishan Reddy presented the argument that it was a long-standing demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir regarding the languages they speak on a daily basis should also be recognized as official languages. And the bill presented before keeps the best interest and wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir after thorough survey and analysis of the language’s demographics.
Further pointed out by the minister that nearly 74% of the people in the union territory preferred to choose Dogri and Kashmiri as common speak.
The bill seeks to encourage and promote local languages among the people of the region.
On 22nd September 2020, the bill was passed in Lok Sabha.
On 23rd September 2020, the bill was passed in Rajya Sabha.
PART XVII OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION (Article 343 to 351)
Article 344 – (1) it allows the president, at the expiration of five years from the commencement of this Constitution and thereafter at the expiration of ten years from such commencement, by order constitute a Commission which shall consist of a Chairman and such other members representing the different languages specified in the English Schedule as the President may appoint, and the order shall define the procedure to be followed by the Commission.
Article 345 which is mentioned in chapter 2 encompassing the regional languages states the official language or languages of a state are subjected to the provisions of Article 346 and 347.
Article 351 – states about the Directive for development of the Hindi language It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule.
After deliberations in both the houses of the parliament with forming a consensus after evaluations on the arguments of both sides the Jammu and Kashmir official languages bill,2020 was given assent by the president of India and became an Act, followed by an official notification by the gazette of India.
THE JAMMU AND KASHMIR OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT, 2020
Section 2 recognizes the administrator as the lieutenant governor appointed by the president of India under the article 239 of the constitution.
Section 3 explicitly states the official languages of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir as Kashmiri, Dogri, Urdu, Hindi, and English to be used for all official purposes of the union territory.
Provided that the English language may continue to be used, for those administrative and legislative purposes, in the Union territory for which it was being used before the commencement of this Act. And business in the legislative assembly of the union territory shall be carried out in official languages.
Section 4 (1) empowers the administrator to take necessary steps to promote and develop the regional languages of the union territory to strengthen the existing institutional mechanisms for example – art, culture, and languages etc.
(2) of the act emphasizes on making special efforts for the promotion and development of Gojri and Punjabi languages.
Ministry of law and justice, 2020, the Jammu and Kashmir official languages act,2020, New Delhi, CG-DL-E-27092020-222037.
Ministry of home affairs, The Jammu, and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020, prsindia.org, 13/2/2021 https://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/jammu-and-kashmir-official-languages-bill-2020
The Hindu, Parliament passes Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020, Thehindu.com, 13/2/2021.
The Wire, President Gives Assent to Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, Thewire.in, 13/2/2021. https://thewire.in/government/president-gives-assent-to-jammu-and-kashmir-official-languages-bill