Article 348 of the constitution of India says that the languages of the Supreme Court and every High Court will be English. However, Article 348 (4) further provides that the Governor of a State may, with the previous consent of the President authorise the use of Hindi language or any other regional language used for any official purposes. Taking recourse to this proviso, some High Courts have allowed to make the arguments etc. in Hindi but the decisions to my knowledge, are delivered in English alone.

In my opinion the use of English should be completely dispensed with. This is right or wrong is an altogether separate issue but it underlines the importance of English language in all courts — right from the Apex Court down to the trial courts. Since the principle of stare decicis is applicable for the judicial discipline; the working knowledge of English language assumes much importance. In Common Law system, the precedent is one of the main sources of the law. Hence, every advocate regardless of the place or court, S(he) is practicing the knowledge of English language hardly needs to be emphasised.

There are innumerable law colleges in Country where nowadays law subjects are taught not through English medium but through Hindi medium or regional languages. Their biggest handicap is in understanding the statues and decisions of the High Courts because their knowledge of English is abysmally and awfully poor. That is why; these advocates often contribute in the miscarriage of justice.

Bar Council of India has now, though, introduced the All India Bar Examination system for enrolling the advocates but this examination is thoroughly inadequate because no test of the candidates of English language is conducted. So much so, the test of English language is not held in the Supreme Court of India for the Advocates-on-Records.Yours truly once asked one of the judges of the Supreme Court of India as to why the English language is not included as one of the papers? He said that it was presumed that those practicing in the Supreme Court would be exceptionally sound not only in the law but also in the English language, that was why, it was never thought to be on these lines. All the same, the judge said almost in the same breath that he felt that a paper of English language must be introduced.

In fact, this job should be done by the Bar Council of India because the knowledge of English language for citing the judgments of the Supreme Court and the High Courts are the sine qua non for any advocate.

Supreme Court of India must also take initiative in this regard. The Supreme Court Bar Association could have taken the lead but regrettably the SCBA leadership is mired in other controversies instead making and positive contribution in honing the art and skill of advocacy.

Yours truly can say it on the basis of the information that he gathers almost every day that advocates, even many seniors suffer from the debilitating effect of the English language. What the SCBA is, however, doing is restricting, the voting rights of the advocates palpably wrong.

So long some basic criterion for enrolling the advocates are not adopted; all talks of improvements in the quality advocates and the membership of the SCBA is bound to flounder on the hard rocks of language ignorance.