CHURUMURI POLL: Courts in local language?

The Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi has reacted angrily to the Supreme Court’s rejection of his request to allow the Madras High Court to use Tamil in its orders, decrees and other proceedings. He has dashed off a letter to the Prime Minister and urged the law and home ministers to assistant TN in getting the President’s assent for Tamil to be used.

Karunanidhi’s contention is that in a multilingual country like India, a single language cannot be used. He says denying Tamil the pride of place in its own courts would pour cold water on regional aspirations. And he says if Hindi can be used in the courts of the northern states, there is no justification for Tamil to be denied the privilege.

Questions: Should the local language—Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam—be used in the courts? Will this help the vast majority of litigants who are ignorant of English or are our bankrupt politicians only using language as a figleaf for their other inadequacies? Is the SC right in denying permission? Is it wrong in seeking to protect judges who are, generally speaking, unaware of the local language?