A Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian of Supreme Court issued notice in a PIL seeking use of plain english for laws, government orders, notifications, etc to make the law accessible to the general public (Dr Subhash Vijayran v. Union of India).
The petitioner had sought directions to the Union Law Ministry to make available guides and handbooks on laws of general public interest and redressal of grievances in easily understandable language.
Contentions in the Plea
The petitioner lawyer, Dr Subhash Vijayran,in PIL Seeking Use of Plain English for Laws has based the plea on the basis of the fact that the “writing of most lawyers is: (1) wordy, (2) unclear, (3) pompous and (4) dull.”
The plea states,
“It is the common man who is most ignorant of the system – in fact quite wary of it. Why? Because he neither understands the system nor the laws. Everything is so much complicated and confusing. The way laws are enacted, practiced and administered in our country violates the fundamental rights of the masses by denying them – Access to Justice. ‘Speedy Justice’ and ‘Legal Awareness’ are the two, out of the many, facets of Access to Justice.“
The PIL Seeking Use of Plain English for Laws states that too much precious time, energy and resources of both the Court as well as lawyers/litigants is wasted due to badly written & verbose drafts and ad-nauseam oral arguments, and that there is a need to prioritize and efficiently use resources.
“If this court is to be truly a court of the masses – and not court of a fortunate few – the era of never-ending oral arguments and verbose pleadings has to go.”
The PIL Seeking Use of Plain English for Laws prays for directions to the Bar Council of India (BCI) to introduce a mandatory subject of “Legal Writing in Plain English” in the three-year and five-year LL.B. courses at all law schools in India.
He has also called for the direct imposition of a page limit for pleadings and a time limit for oral arguments before the Supreme Court.