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Source: The post is based on the article “The simple truth” published in The Times of India on 26th August 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Functioning of judiciary and governance in India
Context: The Supreme Court’s recently set aside the judgment of the Himachal Pradesh high court. The reason behind SC’s decision was that the judgment was incomprehensible.
Historical context behind keeping the language of governance difficult
The language of governance was deliberately made complex by governing classes in pre-modern societies. This complexity has survived till now.
It’s only over the last two decades that a movement to modernize and simplify the language of justice, law, and administration began in some Western democracies.
In the US, scholars of law-making regularly highlight opaque language and jargon in laws that also run into a number of pages.
What is the situation in India?
There have been very low-level efforts to change the language of governance. In the 75th year of its Independence, the language of the Indian state is still the same as the language of the colonial era.
It’s almost impossible to find clarity, brevity, and simplicity in the FIRs, charge sheets, drafting laws, and verdicts written by judges.
Today, English is a widely used language of governance in India but drafters of laws continue with old-styled expressions and complex sentence constructions.
The way of writing laws in old-fashioned is a great example of the frightening tax code that results in a large amount of litigation.
What can be done to improve this?
The general aim of keeping the language of laws and regulations difficult seems to be confusing the general population.
The laws and judgments should be written in such a way that the language can be understood by ordinary people, and experts should not be needed to translate laws and court rulings.