The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Jammu & Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020, to declare certain languages as official languages of the UT. It was passed by the Lok Sabha yesterday.
The Bill declares languages Kashmiri, Dogri, Urdu, Hindi, English as the official languages to be used for the official purposes of the union territory, from such date as the Administrator of the union territory may notify. Business in the Legislative Assembly of the union territory will be transacted in these official languages.
It further clarifies that English may continue to be used in the union territory for those administrative and legislative purposes for which it was being used before the commencement of the Act.
Prior to this, Urdu has been the sole official language in J&K, for over 130 years.
It may be noted that the J&K Re-Organisation Act empowers the J&K legislative assembly to decide on the adoption of official languages. Thus, some MPs opposed Bill. However, the Government clarified thus:
- “Vide the Order S.O. number 3937(E), dated the 31st October, 2019 issued by the Government of India, any reference therein to the Legislature or Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall, in so far as it relates to the functions and powers thereof, be construed, unless the context otherwise requires, as a reference to Parliament.“