Courtroom Language and Article 19(1)(a)

Journal of National Law University Delhi [doi: 10.1177/2277401720917535], 2019

16 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2020

See all articles by Shrutanjaya Bhardwaj

Shrutanjaya Bhardwaj

Supreme Court of India; University of Michigan Law School; National Law University Delhi

Date Written: August 31, 2019


Many would agree that the State should try to ensure that the language used in its courtrooms is one that its subjects understand. The question is whether the subjects can claim this as a matter of right—specifically, as part of the right to free speech. Using the philosophical justifications of the freedom of speech, I argue that Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution assures a right to the litigant to communicate with the court in her own language. Even though the right may be restricted under Article 19(2), or even otherwise if it comes into conflict with another fundamental right, its threshold recognition under Article 19(1)(a) is significant to ensure a disciplined inquiry into the constitutional validity of official courtroom languages.

Keywords: freedom of speech, free speech, courtroom languages, litigant, Article 19, 19(1)(a), access to justice, language rights

Suggested Citation

Bhardwaj, Shrutanjaya, Courtroom Language and Article 19(1)(a) (August 31, 2019). Journal of National Law University Delhi [doi: 10.1177/2277401720917535], 2019, Available at SSRN:

Shrutanjaya Bhardwaj (Contact Author)

Supreme Court of India ( email )

New Delhi
New Delhi, 110001

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

National Law University Delhi ( email )

New Delhi

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