Contempt proceedings sought against Buzdar, Shehbaz for ignoring Punjabi language

Published May 8, 2021
This file photo shows Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar (L) and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif (R). — DawnNewsTV/File
This file photo shows Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar (L) and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif (R). — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was reques­ted on Friday to initiate contempt proceedings against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, former CM Shehbaz Sharif and the government officials concerned for not introducing Punjabi language in educational institutions up to the graduation level in violation of its judgement.

The Supreme Court had through its Sept 8, 2015 verdict asked for implementation of Article 251 of the Constitution with full force and without unnecessary delay by the federal and provincial governments.

Article 251 (3) states that without prejudice to the status of the national language, which is Urdu, the provincial assemblies may prescribe measures for the teaching, promotion and use of a provincial language in addition to the national language.

Dr Mohammad Sami Punjabi is the person who has moved the contempt of the court petition under Article 204 before the Supreme Court for not implementing the original petition in which the apex court was requested to order introducing Punjabi, besides other provincial languages, as medium of instruction at the primary level and as a compulsory literature subject up to the graduation level by keeping the rest of all science and humanities subjects in English and Urdu.

SC urged to order introducing all provincial languages as medium of instruction

In September 2015, a day before doffing of robes, then chief justice Jawwad S. Khawaja had rendered the judgement decreeing the federal and provincial governments to use with full force and without any delay, “Urdu”, the national language of Pakistan, for official and other purposes.

“Bearing in mind the constitutional commands in Articles 5 (loyalty to state) and 251 (use of national language) of the Constitution and noting the inaction and failure of the successive governments, we have no option but to order that the provisions of Article 251 shall be implemented with full force and without unnecessary delay by the federal and provincial governments,” the former chief justice had held in the judgement.

The verdict had also asked the government to consider and implement the three-month time-line, itself given by the government in a July 6, 2015 letter to all the government departments, and asked the federal and provincial governments to coordinate with each other for uniformity in rasmulkhat (font style) for the national language.

In addition, the federal as well as provincial laws will also be translated into the national languages within three months as itself suggested by the government in its July 6 letter, whereas the statutory, regulatory and oversight bodies will take steps to implement Article 251 without unnecessary delay and also ensure compliance.

The verdict had also asked the governments to implement the language in the competitive examinations at the federal level, besides judgements in cases relating to public interest litigation and judgements enunciating a principle of law in terms of Article 189 must be translated into Urdu and should be published in line with Article 251 of the Constitution.

If subsequent to this judgement, any public bodies or public officials continue to violate the constitutional command contained in Article 251, citizens who suffer a tangible loss directly and foreseeably resulting from such violation shall be entitled to enforce any civil rights which may accrue to them on this account, the judgement had held.

Later, on Nov 6, 2015, the Punjab government approached the Supreme Court to seek a slight amendment to its Sept 8 judgement and requested it to revise the verdict, saying the provincial government had already been engaged in implementing the constitutional mandate gradually, but the three-month deadline seemed very unrealistic to complete the gigantic task before it.

Now the fresh contempt of court petition pleaded that for years all other three provinces had been teaching their provincial languages as compulsory subjects and using them as a medium of instruction under Articles 251(3), 25A and 28, yet the Punjab government has not implemented explicit orders in the judgement.

The petition requested the Supreme Court to issue notices to the respondents and order them to implement the orders of the court and introduce Punjabi language across Punjab by giving equal options to other languages of the province, like Saraiki and Balochi in D.G. Khan and Rajanpur region as a medium of instruction at the primary level.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2021

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