After more than seven decades of the language movement, it is pathetic to find that Bangla is yet to get its optimal status as the language of the judicial system in the country. Despite clear constitutional guidelines and legal provisions, there are many barriers to making Bangla a functional language in the courtrooms. Article-3 of the Constitution of Bangladesh recognises Bangla as the state language of the Republic. Bangla Bhasha Procholon Ain (Bangla Language Implementation Act) was made in 1987 to make the use of Bangla compulsory in courts and offices of Bangladesh. Nevertheless, most of the legal proceedings in Higher Courts are in English. Its use is limited. Though several justices have already set examples of writing their verdicts in Bangla, others are yet to do so for various reasons.
The good thing is that lower courts have been using Bangla as a functional language, making it easy to understand the entire proceedings and verdicts. In many cases, there is, however, a trend to use the rigid format of Bangla, which makes many things difficult to comprehend, especially for those who are not well educated but only semi-literate. A key reason is the lack of a critical legal lexicon and relevant terms and terminology. So, more work is essential to use Bangla in easy and communicative ways.
The demand for using Bangla in all matters of the country's judicial system is not new. Over the years, various stakeholders have submitted the demand to the policymakers. They have also identified the barriers to full-fledged uses of Bangla in the judicial system and offered solutions to overcome the drawbacks. An open public discussion in the last week in Dhaka, where this scribe joined, also highlighted the issues of using Bangla at all levels of courts. Organised by the Humanity Foundation, the discussants at the event expressed their disappointments at sidelining Bangla in all aspects of judicial function. Some pointed out that all the law books are in English and there is no serious attempt to translate these into Bangla. Some said that a lack of political will is mainly responsible for non-use of Bangla in all the courts and government offices. Again, some argued that it is primarily a matter of indifference to using Bangla as a functional language.
As the nation observed the Amor Ekushey on Tuesday last to commemorate the sacrifices of the language martyrs and heroes, there was also a flurry of speeches to uphold the glory and honour of Bangla, the mother tongue and also the state language. All these have been repeated over the decades. But the talks and promises need to convert into practice. That's why the urge to use Bangla in all aspects of the judicial system has also been repeated over the periods. Making Bangla a fully working language in the judiciary will ultimately play a critical role in inspiring others to do the same. As the repository of the rule of law, the judiciary serves as the ultimate deliverer and upholder of hope and faith. Let it take the lead in advancing and preserving the excellence of Bangla.