Official Language – Constitutional/Statutory Provisions

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Article 343(1) of the Constitution provides that Hindi in Devanagari script shall be the Official Language of the Union. Article 343(2) also provided for continuing the use of English in official work of the Union for a period of 15 years (i.e., up to 25 January 1965) from the date of commencement of the Constitution. Article 343(3) empowered the parliament to provide by law for continued use of English for official purposes even after 25 January 1965. Accordingly, section 3(2) of the Official Languages Act, 1963 (amended in 1967) provides for continuing the use of English in official work even after 25 January 1965. The Act also lays down that both Hindi and English shall compulsorily be used for certain specified purposes such as Resolutions, General Orders, Rules, Notifications, Administrative and other Reports, Press Communiqués; Administrative and other Reports and Official Papers to be laid before a House or the Houses of Parliament; Contracts, Agreements, Licences, Permits, Tender Notices and Forms of Tender, etc.

In 1976, Official Language Rules were framed under the provisions of section 8(1) of the Official Languages Act, 1963. Its salient features are as under:

  • They apply to all Central Government Offices, including any office of a Commission, Committee or Tribunal appointed by the Central Government and Corporation or Company owned or controlled by it;
  • Communications from a Central Government Office to State/Union Territories or to any person in Region “A” comprising the States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Haryana and UTs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Delhi, shall be in Hindi;
  • Communications from a Central Government Office to States/UTs in Region “B” comprising the States of Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, shall ordinarily be in Hindi. However, communication to any person in Region “B” may be either in English or Hindi;
  • Communications from a Central Government Office to a State Government Office in region ‘C’ comprising all other States and UTs not included in region ‘A’ & ‘B’ or to any office (note being a Central Government Office) or person shall be in English;
  • Communications between Central Government Offices and from Central Government Offices to the Offices of the State Governments/Union Territories and individuals, etc., will be in Hindi in such proportions as may be determined from time to time;
  • All Manuals, Codes and other Procedural literature relating to Central Government Offices are required to be prepared both in Hindi and English. All Forms, Headings of Registers, Name Plates, Notice Boards and various items of stationery, etc., are also required to be in Hindi and English;
  • It shall be the responsibility of the officer signing the documents specified in section 3(3) of the Act to ensure that these are issued both in Hindi and English.
  • Shall be the responsibility of the administrative head of each Central Government Office to ensure that the provisions of the Act, the Rules and directions issued under Sub-Rule-2 are properly complied with and to devise suitable and effective check points for this purpose