Speaking in mother tongue and making the use of mother tongue in all levels thereby turns to be as of the fundamental right of a nation. There is a long history of thousand years behind the establishment of ‘Bangla’ language. Through the recognition of UNESCO in 1999, our beloved mother tongue ‘Bangla’ ascended in international level to be uniformly celebrated across the world on each 21st of February. But the main object of our language movement is perhaps neglected in the Court arena.
On 17 February 2014, the High Court Division has issued a rule to take measures for implementing and ensuring the use of Bangla language everywhere, including signboards, banners, electronic media advertisements, nameplates, and vehicle number plates, within 15 May 2014. With this issue the interest of common people and fundamental rights are involved deeply. The Court indicted the government for its failure to implement the ‘Bangla’ Language Implementation Act 1987, and for the failure to ensure the use of Bangla in all offices and courts too. But it is unfortunate to say that still we do not have any sparkling delivery in the manner of rule regarding the ‘Bangla’ Language Implementation Act, 1987.
In the Constitution of Bangladesh, it is stated that the state language of the Republic will be Bangla. All the institutions including the Supreme Court have been formed based on the Constitution. We cannot disregard the Constitution which is a supreme law of our country. Keeping the constitutional purpose ahead ‘Bangla Language Implementation Act, 1987’ was promulgated. Further, in 2011, two recommendations were made by the Law Commission regarding the ‘Bangla’ Language Implementation Act 1987'. One is regarding section 558 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 and another one is regarding section 137(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure. If the government issues these two declarations, very soon it will be possible to ensure the use of ‘Bangla’ language in the Court. However, no efficacious attempt has been taken so far to materialise it.
Although there had been hindrances to use Bangla in the Supreme Court, through the amendment of the Supreme Court (High Court Division) Rules 1973 on 21 November 2012, the opportunity of using ‘Bangla’ has been created. But hindrances to use ‘Bangla’ in the Supreme Court were noticed. As a result, English has become an integral language in the decisions of the Supreme Court.
It is accepted by all that, the importance of English must be acknowledged as an international language and also to protect the national interests but never at the sacrifice of our mother tongue. At the government level, it is easily perceivable that ‘Bangla’ is prevalent in almost every stage of the executive including the Prime Minister’s office and the Secretariat. All activities including the sessions of the Parliament are run in ‘Bangla’, whereas it is not found in the judiciary, specially in the Supreme Court.
The Court is to ensure people’s right to justice. All the processes starting from pleading for the judgment, conducting the trial, giving verdict and materialising the verdict requires the usage of languages. The Court is considered the unitary organisation which not only works as the last resort of ensuring justice but also for giving verdict which is determined to establish the rule of law. Therefore, the performance of the judiciary and the judicial decisions should be comprehended by both all the parties involved. The parties in a suit have the right to know and understand the result of any dispute.
It is to be kept in mind that, the main driving force of democracy is the people. The success of the democracy is attributed to the involvement and participation of the people in the activities of the state. It requires the promise of all the citizens to introduce and establish ‘Bangla’ everywhere when the state language works as the driving force of the people. A lot of issues have been brought in all the dialogues for establishing democracy and rule of law except implementing the use of Bangla. As an immediate step, it might be proposed that the Appellate Division may step forward to deliver all the interim orders and operating part of a full judgment or summary judgment in ‘Bangla’ or both in ‘Bangla’ and English. But there is no such hindrance any more. The main problem now is the unwillingness of using Bangla. In order to protect the Bangladeshi nationalism it is the holy duty of the respected judges and lawyers to curb the unwillingness of using Bangla language.
The writer is Associate Professor of Law, Bangladesh Open University.