January 1, 2012

Hindi is a foreign language for Gujaratis, says Gujarat high court

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat high court has said that Hindi is a foreign language for Gujaratis. Even the state government-run primary schools teach in Gujarati, the court said.

The high court made the observations in a case filed by farmers from Junagadh objecting to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) publishing a notification in Hindi. In 2006, the NHAI planned to widen the existing two-lane national highway 8D to four lanes. The alignment of the bypass was changed last year on various grounds.

This hurt farmers in Junagadh and Rajkot. Farmers from Junagadh's Saraghvada village moved the HC as their land would be acquired. They alleged the plan was changed to benefit influential people. As per Section 3(A) 3 of the National Highways Act, notification about a change in plan should have been published in Gujarati. NHAI though published it only in Hindi and English.

Justice V M Sahai, who heard the case on December 29, concluded that by not publishing the notification in Gujarati, NHAI committed an error. He quashed last year's notification and declared the process as null and void. The court, however, refused to cancel the project.

The judge upheld the petitioners' argument that Hindi is not understood by the residents of Junagadh. "The language used by the petitioners in this area is Gujarati and Hindi language used in the notification is a foreign language for them. The normal spoken language in the region is Gujarati and not Hindi. Similarly, government imparts education in primary school level in Gujarati," the court observed.