Let's not go against the flow
ON the month of February The article “Status of 'Bangla' in legal arena” was a timely publication in the same page. The author Dr. Nahid Ferdousi, rightly observed the dilemma of using mother language in all official procedure of Apex Court. Her appeal to respect the martyrs of the Language Movement is morally legitimate, concerns for the interest of uneducated litigants in understanding the reasoning behind judgment does not necessarily go amiss. But prospects in this regard are practically unable to be met. Despite of utter willingness, an attempt to clear out using English language from Court is essentially associated with many difficulties and downsides as well.
Supreme Court is, constitutionally, a'court of record' in the meaning that its acts and proceedings are recorded for a perpetual memorial. Here, legal principles from different ages are dissected, theories from different disciplines analysed and ideas from several foreign courts explored. The whole Judiciary is also erected on hundred year exclusive English dominance in judgments, precedents, academic standards; those all are guiding and binding in the current procedure and would be doing the same in the next progress. The word 'impossible' is not enough to denote the exhaustiveness of the task to translate them all. Even if it is possible, suspicion remains how far the translation would do justice to the meaning and context when interpretation and construction plays a significantly complex role in Supreme Court.
More importantly, if we deny the necessity to import reference from foreign courts, we cannot expect to export our own judgments be used in other countries or tribunals and be contributing in global legal knowledge. Moreover, with the exponential increase of global interaction, Supreme Court deals with a growing number of issues primarily relate tointernational entities, e.g. MNCs, INGOs and Agencies etc., who are often the direct parties to the matter.
The writer also pointed out that Lawyers often manipulate the parties who are unable to understand judgment in English. If the lawyers are less scrupulous, just Bangla Version Judgment is not enough to check the 'harassment and sufferings' while the parties seldom possess legal knowledge especially about anything comes from the Apex Court.
Acknowledging that there should be proper facilitation towards accessibility of law and flow of information to justify the principle 'Ignorance of Law is not an Excuse'. But, medium of language is not the root cause behind that ignorance nor can Bangla judgment alone ensure accesses to law and information in all walks of life.
On the point that other government organs carry their business in Bangla, it is evidently noticed that officials lack necessary competencies when they come to deal with foreign interactions, i.e. sit for negotiations and design any deal. Despite the paramount pressure to increase language efficiency when our officials are lagging behind, how can we ensure that occasional practices in English is enough for judicial officers or practitioners to perform their best when they come across foreign party, counterpart and competitor?
The argument that our majority mass people are uneducated cannot discard our dream for cent percent education in near future. The neighboring country, India, aggressively adopted English as one of the state languages. Even the very common people, too, reached to certain level of English efficiency in there. But, we are crawling on this regard although 'hundred marks compulsory English' is taught for consecutive 12 years in our education. That many of our highly educated people and professionals are, still, much comfortable in their local dialect and awkward in speaking Bangla with standard pronunciation refers our serious apathy to learn language in any case let alone willingness to glorify the sense of national language.
Getting to the root of this dilemma, we must say mass education and legal awareness is to be targeted instead of a blanket ban on English. Moreover, it is better to have confidence in learned judges and expert counsels to take care of the litigants then to day-dream that lay men would understand the law more better in Bangla when there is no convincing evidence that how many times litigants in lower court themselves go through the pages and papers which are of course in Bangla most of the time. It is much better to expect our people to get educated than to alter hundred years tradition and sophisticated system. While English is pervasive in every other part of our lives, i.e. media, television, education, research and communication, and blanket ban is impossible, rational to pay tribute to the martyred souls by bringing Bangla in only legal field is not enough convincing.
The writer is Legal Executive of a Multinational Company.