Published On : Sat, Jan 28th, 2023

Former CJI Sharad Bobde asks why Sanskrit can’t be made India’s official language

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Nagpur: Former Chief Justice of India Sharad Bobde on Friday batted for Sanskrit as the country’s official language, including for use in courts, and said even the architect of the Constitution and eminent jurist BR Ambedkar had proposed it as per media reports from 1949.

He said Hindi and English are used as official languages in governance and courts as per law, while every chief justice receives representations seeking nod to introduce respective regional languages, which is now a reality in the district level judiciary and some high courts.

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Bobde was speaking at the Akhil Bhartiya Chhatra Sammellan organised by Sanskrit Bharti.

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At the level of the high court, the official language is English, though many HCs have had to allow applications, petitions and even documents in regional languages, he said.

“I don’t think this issue (of official language) should remain unresolved. It has remained unresolved since 1949. There are grave dangers of miscommunication in governance and administration of justice, though this is not the place to discuss,” he said.

“Newspapers of September 11 of 1949 have reported that Dr Ambedkar initiated the move to have Sanskrit as the official language of the Union of India. Sanskrit vocabulary is common to a lot of our languages. I ask myself this question as to why Sanskrit cannot be the official language as Dr Ambedkar had proposed,” he said.

The former CJI said introducing Sanskrit would not amount to introducing any religion, as 95 per cent of the language has nothing to do with any religion but deals with issues related to philosophy, law, science, literature, phonetics, architecture, astronomy etc.

“The (Sanskrit) language does not belong to south or north India, and is perfectly capable for secular use. It has been found most suited for computers by a NASA scientist, who wrote a paper ‘Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence’. He also said it can be used to communicate messages in the fewest possible words,” the former CJI said.

Citing a survey, Bobde said some 43.63 per cent of citizens speak Hindi, while just 6 per cent speak English, which comes down to 3 per cent in rural areas.

He further said 41 per cent of the rich speak English, while it is just 2 per cent among the poor, adding that Sanskrit is possibly the only language which can co- exist with our regional languages, 22 of which are recognized by the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule.

“I say this after consulting language experts, who agree that Indian use many Sanskrit words while communicating with each other in regional languages. Every regional language, including Urdu, contains words of Sanskrit origin. Some, like Assamese, Hindi, Telugu and Bengali and Kannada contain up to 60-70 percent Sanskrit words,” he said.

Bobde, however, admitted the transition (to Sanskrit) cannot take place overnight but over many years.

“The language will have to be taught as a language without any religious connotation. Like English is taught in professional courses. A vocabulary (will need to be) created and the language added to the Official Languages Act,” he asserted.

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