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Permit Tamil in state Courts or quit: Justice Katju to Jaya

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New Delhi: Former Supreme Court Judge Justice Markandey Katju today backed the demand of agitating lawyers of Madras High Court for permitting Tamil language in all courts of Tamil Nadu.

“The ball is now squarely in your Court. Either give the advice to the Governor and speak to the President under Article 348(2) and section 7 of the Official Languages Act as suggested immediately, or quit as Chief Minister,” Justice Katju said in a letter written to the Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

He said the demand of agitating lawyers for permitting use of Tamil in courts is totally justified as Hindi is also permitted in four High Courts-Allahabad, Patna, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

“Tamil is a great language with a very old and rich literary heritage….So Tamilians are proud of their language, and are justified in demanding that it be permitted in law courts,” said former apex court judge who had also sat on the bench of the Madras High Court.

Justice Katju said that when he was a lawyer in Allahabad High Court, he had often argued in Hindi and when a judge in Delhi High Court and Supreme Court he would often speak in Hindi.

He said Article 348 (2) of Indian Constitution provides that proceedings in a High Court can be conducted in the local language if the Governor, so orders with the permission of the President and section 7 of the Official Languages Act, 1963 permits judgements and orders in the local language if the Governor permits.

“I am surprised that as yet you (Jayalalithaa) have not recommended to the Tamil Nadu Governor and not spoken to the President of India to permit use of Tamil in the Madras High Court,” he said.

Calling the decision of Bar Council of India suspending 15 High Court lawyers as “stupidly”, “asinine” and “dim witted”, Justice Katju said it will certainly aggravate the situation and lead to agitations by lawyers all over Tamil Nadu and resultant closure of all Courts.