Lok Sabha Passes Jammu & Kashmir Official Language Bill

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The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Jammu and Kashmir Official Language bill, 2020, to introduce Hindi, Kashmiri and Dogri as official languages in the Union Territory, in addition to Urdu and English. The bill also states that the existing institutional mechanisms such as the Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Jammu and Kashmir, would serve for promotion and development of regional languages of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, including Gojari (Gujri), Pahari and Punjabi.

Till now, Urdu is the official language in J&K, however, it is the mother tongue of only a small section of the population in the Union Territory. On the other hand, a large percentage of population understands and speaks Kashmiri and Dogri. But, unfortunately these were never recognized as official languages.

With the latest move, the Central Government has rectified 131- years old anomaly and also fulfilled the spirit of equality, promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after bifurcation on 5th August 2019.

The Bill said: “ For preserving Urdu and English which are used as official languages of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and simultaneously elaborating its ambit by including languages spoken by a majority of the population, it has become necessary to enact a law by Parliament.”

“With effect from such date as the Administrator (Lt. Governor) may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint in this behalf, the Kashmiri, Dogri, Urdu, Hindi and English languages shall be official languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the Union territory and different dates may be appointed for different areas in the Union territory,” the bill further added.

The Bill also provides that the English language may continue to be used, for those administrative and legislative purposes, in the Union territory for which it was being used before the commencement of this act. It also said the business in the legislative assembly of the Union Territory shall be transacted in the official language or languages of the Union Territory.

The Lt. Governor, administrator of the Union Territory, has been empowered by the new bill to take necessary steps to promote Gojri, Pahari and Punjabi language.

The bill now would be introduced in the upper house of the  Parliament for consideration and passing after which it will be sent for the President’s assent.

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