LAHORE - Will Urdu be ever adopted as official language in accordance with the Supreme Court verdict of September 8? Is the judgment applicable to the apex court?

Senior lawyers have divergent views on both the issues, so it is difficult to conclude what the actual situation is.

Talking to The Nation, Supreme Court Bar Association President Barrister Ali Zafar yesterday said: “The SC verdict is applicable to it, but we ourselves do not want to adopt it. Lawyers do not speak Urdu when they appear before the court. It cannot be enforced all of a sudden. It is a difficult situation because both lawyers and judges have no training in Urdu. Proceedings are held in English and judgments are also delivered in the same language. Moreover, PLDs and SCMRs are written in English,” said Zafar.

When asked if this order was applicable to the SC itself; why it was not complying with its own order in announcing and writing judgments, Abid Hassan Manto, a leading lawyer, said, “We ourselves don’t want to comply with this order as lawyers speak English and the judges have to record verdict in this language.”

He said, while giving arguments in the court, lawyers prefer English to Urdu. “The fact is that most of them speak incorrect English,” he claimed.

Former law minister SM Zafar, who is ex-president of the Supreme Court Bar and the father of the incumbent president of SCBA, said the departments concerned should play their role in translating terminologies of different subjects into Urdu. If there is no substitute in Urdu for some English terminologies, they should be considered as part of Urdu.

When asked whether the SC verdict on adopting Urdu applies to it, he replied, “The Constitution is supreme, which has clearly said that “Urdu shall be enforced as an official language within 15 years of time”. He said, “Decisions of the Constitution and the SC do not apply to them.” He, however, said, “The SC decision itself is incomplete as it does not mention or fix role of anyone in it.”

A leading lawyer, Khurram Chughtai, said Article 251 says: (1) National language of Pakistan is Urdu, and arrangements shall be made for adopting it for official and other purposes within 15 years from the commencement day.”

(2) Subject to clause (1), the English language may be used for official purposes until arrangements are made for its replacement with Urdu.

He said the operating part of the order of the Supreme Court in Para 19 says certain directions have been passed on to federal/provincial governments. It appears the apex court stressed translation from English into Urdu, but, on the other hand, the words used in Article 251 are “arrangements shall be made”. “I believe there should be legislative, regulatory and administrative framework for arrangements of transformation instead of just translation from English into Urdu. Even for translation there is still vast room for scientific arrangements for lack of actual words in Urdu language, which can be used in translation,” said Chughtai.