Do name of laws passed by Parliament have to be in English too, Kerala HC asks PIL petitioner

Kochi: With three new criminal laws slated to come into force in July, the Kerala High Court, taking up a public interest litigation challenging their Hindi names, on Wednesday decided to examine the question of whether Article 348 of the Constitution mandates that even the names of laws passed by the Parliament have to be in English, and not just their texts.

The three new criminal laws, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, are intended to replace the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Indian Evidence Act.

In his PIL, advocate P.V. Jeevesh argued that naming the new laws in this manner falls foul of Article 348 which mandates that English shall be used for all Acts and Bills passed by the Parliament.

The Bench then asked him if the names of the Acts are also included in the mandate of Article 348 (1)(b) or if only their contents need to be in English.

“Article 348 only says that authoritative text has to be in English. Does that include the name?” the Court orally asked.

Jeevesh contended that the nomenclature of the new laws would create confusion and difficulty for lawyers in south India and other parts of the country where Hindi is not spoken as the first language. The names of the new laws are also hard to pronounce for those who do not speak Hindi or Sanskrit, he said, urging the High Court to order the Central government to give English names to the new laws besides seeking a declaration that the Parliament has no authority to title any law in any language other than English.

Following the arguments from the various parties, the court said the matter requires a detailed hearing and posted the case next on July 26.


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