Languages and Eighth Schedule

Issues with legal language in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Issue with legal language

Context

  •  Recently, a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court regarding the use of legal language.
  • Reacting to the plea, the Supreme Court has asked the Ministry of Law and Justice and Bar Council to respond.

Wha the PIL is about?

  • The PIL (Subhash Vijayran vs Union of India) wants the legislature and executive to use plain English in drafting laws, the Bar Council to introduce plain English in law curricula and the Supreme Court to only allow concise and precise pleadings.
  • He begins the synopsis to the writ petition in the following way. “The writing of most lawyers is: (1) wordy, (2) unclear, (3) pompous and (4) dull.

Way forward

  • When asking the Ministry of Law and Justice and Bar Council to respond, the Chief Justice of India referred to Anthony Burgess’s book (1964) Language Made Plain.
  • George Orwell set out six principles, which could be used while drafting.
  • Copy editors routinely use these principles, but not the judiciary.
  • The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy produced a manual on plain language drafting in 2017.

Conclusion

The Ministry of Law and Justice make use of the opportunity provided by the PIC to come up with the set of principles to make the legal language easier for all.

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