- Undeniably, effective communication on any matter should be simple, easy, precise, and comprehensible without leaving the end user confused owing to accompanying unfathomable jargon. Moreso, when the authorities entrusted with ensuring the welfare of the citizens must be doubly careful whilst disseminating information on various people-related matters. Especially, in a democratic country like India which is dotted with disparate caste, creed, class, language, culture, tradition, religion, and a huge swathe of topography spread wide and far, reaching out to people unambiguously is absolutely essential.
PC: JESSICA STILLMAN
- The global community admires how the democratic credential of India is upheld year after year allowing the nation’s flag to fly high with pride. Yes, challenges galore persists but it is managed well. Coming back to the subject matter, the judicial jargon being bandied out is hardly discernible at best of times and is not lost on anybody. Ordinary citizens are left with no option but to approach legal experts for threadbare analysis is a fact. An interesting uptake on the topic was touched upon by the Supreme Court recently calling for brevity, simplicity, and clarity while setting aside an incomprehensible judgment of the Himachal Pradesh high court.
- Needless to mention, this should apply not just to the judiciary but to every arm of the state. The HC division bench verdict is dotted with gems such as these: the ire res-controversia, erupting interse the litigants, appertains, to findings, adversarial, to the workman. I cannot deduce what it means, do you? Some more, contra therewith, became adduced, by him, hence became enjoined, to dispel the factum. Mind you, this would have been funny had the import of such gobbledygook, not been grave. Note that the language of governance was deliberately made complex by governing classes in pre-modern societies.
PC: The Dispatch Staff
- This survived well into what’s called the advent of modernity. Yes, it’s only over the last two decades or so that a movement to modernize and simplify the language of justice, law, and administration began in some Western democracies. It hasn’t been successful everywhere and India hasn’t even tried earnestly. It’s high time it did. From cops writing FIRs and preparing chargesheets to the executive drafting laws, to judges writing verdicts, it’s almost impossible to find clarity, brevity, and simplicity. As mentioned above, a democratic state exists for the citizen and not vice versa. It naturally follows that how the state communicates is critical.
- Thus, clunkily written laws result in copious litigation defeating the very purpose of simply coherent communication. The rule of thumb should be to ensure that laws and judgments mirror ordinarily understood language style as closely as possible. Look not far than India’s electoral democracy conducted in language styles that are easily understood. Every politician knows he/she has to speak clearly. But the same politicians, when in office, bow to the incomprehensibility that’s one of the defining features of the establishment. They should be the catalyst for the intended change. The SC has initiated the move, the rest should follow suit.