PIL In SC Seeks Direction To Draft Statutes, Rules and Notifications In Plain Language
What are lawyers for? What do they do for the people? Why do we require their expertise and advice? Likewise, what are doctors for? Won’t we need them once we understand their terminology?
What will be the consequences once a lay person understands a codified law? Will there be any far-reaching result of this step?
The apex court entertained a plea seeking for the directions for the plain use of language in drafting and issuing of all govt. Communications, and for issuance of handbooks of laws of general public interest which can be understood by the layman also.
The petition has been filed by the petitioner-in-person, Dr. Subhash Vijayran, also further seeks direction for the Bar Council of India to introduce a compulsory subject in respect of the same. According to the plea, “Legal Writing in Plain English” should be enlisted in the studies for 3 yr and 5 yr LL.B Courses in India.
Furthermore, the petition also seeks an imposition of page limit for the pleadings and time-limit for the oral arguments before the Supreme Court of India, such as 5-10 minutes for applications, 20 minutes for short cases, 30 minutes for cases of moderate length, and 40-60 minutes for long cases.
As stated in the Plea,
the writing of most lawyers is dull, pompous, unclear and wordy.
We use eight words to say what can be said in two. We use arcane phrases to express commonplace ideas. Seeking to be precise, we become redundant. Seeking to be cautious, we become verbose. Our writing is teemed with legal jargon and legalese. And the story goes?"
Moreover, the petition submits that the Constitution, Law and Legal System is for the common man, and yet it is the common man who is most ignorant of the system and even wary of it.
"Because he (common citizen) neither understands the system not the laws. Everything is so much complicated and confusing" –
Accordingly, the plea states, it violates the fundamental right of the masses by denying them Access to Justice, a facet of Article 14 read with Articles 21 and 39A. Taking into consideration all the above issues, the plea contends that the Legislature and the Executive should enact "precise and unambiguous laws, and as far as possible, in plain language".
Further, a guide in plain English and other vernacular languages should be issued by the Government to explain laws of general public interest.
Though, my question here is if the language is made simple for the laymen to understand, will there be any need of lawyers in the society?
Similarly, will we need any professional in the society if we ourselves understand all the laws, techniques, manners to do anything or approach a new field.
Suppose one needs to consult a doctor for diagnosis for his pain, and he is able to understand all the vocabulary and terms of the clinical and medicinal field. Would he pay a visit to a doctor or directly approach the hospital and get a treatment on the basis of self-diagnosis?
Let us assume that the laws are made simpler, and a non-professional can easily understand each and every detail of the same. Would he be inclined towards hiring a legal professional for advice? In every field or profession, one has spent time, money and effort on understanding its intricacies, also its ins and outs completely. Altogether that decades of experience goes into vain if a lay person can understand and plead before a court.
Despite all this, conceding that law is made simpler and a layman can easily understand it, he would still need to pass a bar to stand before a court. Nevertheless, one requires an advocate to plead on his behalf as well as fight for justice or right.
Bearing all this in mind, can we imagine a situation where we can change the language of the codified laws which is itself drafted by the lawmakers? Whereby every single section has been penned down carefully considering the interest of the people of the nation.