J&K official language Bill, 2020

Published: September 4, 2020

The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the Jammu and Kashmir Languages Bill 2020. It will be introduced in upcoming monsoon session of the parliament.

Key Highlights

  • It will make five languages—Urdu, Hindi, Kashmiri, Dogri and English—the official language of the region.
  • It was a long-pending public demand of the region.
  • It is keeping with the spirit of equality which was ushered in after Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its statehood and bifurcated it into two Union territories in August 2019.
  • Urdu, Hindi and Dogri also among Eight Schedule Languages.

Why This Bill?

The Bill has been approved in the aftermath of J&K Reorganisation Act and new domicile rules in Jammu and Kashmir.

Criticism

  • Exclusion of Punjabi is an anti-minority move.
  • End the 131-year-old status of Urdu as the sole official language.
  • Demand for inclusion of more languages has been triggered.

J&K Reorganisation Act

The Act gave legal force to the de facto revocation of Article 370. It had mandated a special relation between the Centre and the erstwhile state. The Act was introduced to divide Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

New domicile rules

As per the rules, people belonging to West Pakistan, Valmikis, women marrying outside communities, non-registered Kashmiri migrants and displaced people will get domicile. Reports say that a domicile policy for Ladakh is also on the cards.

Eight Schedule Languages

It is the list of official languages recognised by the Constitution. The Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution contains a list of 22 scheduled languages viz. Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Sindhi (added by 21st Amendment Act, 1967), Konkani, Manipuri, Nepali (added by 71st Amendment Act, 1992), Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, Santhal (added by 92nd Amendment 2003). The list had originally 14 languages only but subsequently through amendments 8 new languages were added.

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