“Make Law easily understandable to Layman”: PIL in SC seeks use of plain English for laws

    A PIL has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking for directions for the use of plain language in the drafting and issuing of all government rules, regulations, notifications and communications and for issuance of handbooks on laws of general public interest which are easily comprehensible to the layman.

    The Petitioner-in-person, Dr Subhash Vijayran, has stated in the plea that the “writing of most lawyers is: (1) wordy, (2) unclear, (3) pompous and (4) dull.”

    The plea goes on to state that the Constitution, Law and Legal System is for the common man, and yet it is the common man who is the most ignorant of the system, actually quite wary of it.

    Because the common citizen neither understands the laws nor the system. Everything is so much complex and unclear – This, the plea states, violates the fundamental right of the common people by denying them Access to Justice, a component of Article 14 read with Articles 21 and 39A.

    Stressing on the significance of using plain language, the petitioner states,

    “It avoids verbose, complex language and legal jargon. Using plain language in communications eventually improves efficiency, because it is less ambiguous for the readers, and less time is taken for interpretations and explanations. This is a step toward Access to Justice.”

    The petitioner further prays for directions to the Bar Council of India (BCI) to introduce a mandatory subject of “Legal Writing in Plain English” in the 3 year and 5 year LL.B. courses in India.

    Additionally, the plea seeks for a limit of 50-60 page limit for pleadings of the parties and 20-30 page limit for responses to the pleadings to be imposed, The plea also suggests imposing a time limit with respect to oral arguments for each side; 5-10 minutes for applications, 20 minutes for short cases, 30 minutes for cases of moderate length, and 40-60 minutes for long cases. The Petitioner contends that only in exceptional cases of constitutional and public importance, should the time limit of oral arguments be relaxed beyond one hour. The era of never ending oral arguments and verbose pleadings has to go.

    The matter is expected to be listed for hearing on October 15th, 2020.