Criminal law Bills renaming is needless meddling

Criminal law Bills renaming is needless meddling

Criminal law Bills renaming is needless meddling


Recent Parliament sessions have witnessed the introduction of three new Bills, sparking discussions not about their content, but about their names. The Indian Penal Code has now transformed into the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Code of Criminal Procedure into Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and the Indian Evidence Act into the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill. While the focus here isn’t on the controversies surrounding the Bills’ content, it lies in the unfamiliar and tongue-twisting names. This linguistic dilemma not only raises acceptability concerns but also contradicts Article 348 of the Constitution, which mandates authoritative texts to be in English. Although the Bills’ content is in English, their Hindi titles defy the constitutional decree.


GS-02 (Constitutional Amendments)


  • Article 348
  • Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Criminal Justice System reforms India.
  • Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita Bill 2023, Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023, Bharatiya Sakshya Bill 2023.
  • Criminal justice reform recommendations
  • Vohra Committee, Malimath Committee, Madhav Menon Committee.
  • Supreme Court directives on police reforms.

Mains Question :

  • Discuss the implications of naming recent Bills in Hindi while maintaining their content in English, highlighting the tensions between linguistic diversity and legal uniformity in India. (150 words)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Language Dynamics and Legal Landscape
  • Linguistic Diversity and Cultural Significance
  • Majoritarianism in Play
  • Championing Unity or Imposing Identity?
  • Constitutional Conundrum

Language Dynamics and Legal Landscape:

  • The language debate has historical roots, stemming from fervent deliberations during the Constituent Assembly. This led to provisions in the Constitution and the Official Languages Act.
  • Presently, English retains its status as an official language, contingent upon State Legislature and Parliament resolutions for its discontinuation.
  • However, aiming for prominence on the global stage while relegating English seems paradoxical.

Linguistic Diversity and Cultural Significance:

  • India’s linguistic diversity, often a catalyst for protests and movements, hinges on strong emotional ties. The very division of India into States based on language exemplifies language’s intertwinement with identity.
  • Recall the upheaval in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab, and Karnataka during the 1960s when Hindi dominance was challenged.
  • The imbroglio persists; language is integral to culture. The imposition of Hindi-titled Bills by the Union Government might appear as a bid to impose the majority’s linguistic culture on minorities.

Majoritarianism in Play:

  • Non-Hindi speakers’ concerns are fueled by contemporary events. Assertions by influential figures that Hindi should soon become the ‘national language,’ along with Hindi-only forms in institutions like Indian Railways, raise eyebrows.
  • The initial draft of the National Education Policy 2020, perceived as pushing for Hindi imposition, drew opposition.
  • Statements by the Union Home Minister linking Hindi to nationhood ignite tensions, reinforcing the perception of Hindi’s privileging over other regional languages.

Championing Unity or Imposing Identity?

  • The assertion that Hindi’s numerical superiority justifies its supremacy over languages like Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Odia echoes majoritarianism.
  • This notion of assimilation contradicts constitutional values of inclusivity, diversity, and respect.
  • The Constitution places the prerogative of shifting from English to Hindi as an official language with non-Hindi-speaking States. Naming Bills in Hindi infringes upon this position, fanning the flames of a long-standing debate.

Constitutional Conundrum:

  • Furthermore, English serves as the language of law and courts, including the High Courts and the Supreme Court. Judges are transferred across regions, statutes are read in English, and the common law system relies on precedents documented in English.
  • Maintaining clarity and precision in legal proceedings hinges on English, while adopting colloquial or Sanskritized Hindi terms is needless complexity. Referring these Bills to the Home Affairs Committee rather than the Law and Justice Committee seems counterintuitive.

Way Forward:

  • The Parliamentary Committee tasked with reviewing these Bills should prioritize altering their names to reflect their English content, respecting India’s linguistic diversity while upholding legal clarity.


  • The nexus between linguistic diversity, legal uniformity, and cultural sensitivity is inescapable. Recent developments in naming Bills in Hindi yet maintaining their content in English challenge this delicate balance. As India aspires to shine on the global stage, reconciling language dynamics with constitutional values remains a formidable endeavor.