Here is an article dealing with the HC ruling on implementation of Bangla Language:
Are we in Jinnah’s realm?
ABM Hamidul Mishbah
The High Court Division recently issued a rule to take measures for implementing and ensuring the use of Bangla language everywhere, including signboards, banners, electronic media advertisements, nameplates, and vehicle number plates, within May 15, 2014. The rule passed by the HC was the outcome of a writ petition filed in the public interest by one Supreme Court lawyer. The court indicted the government for its failure to implement the Bengali Language Implementation Act 1987, and for the failure to ensure the use of Bangla in all offices and courts too.
However, the 1987 act appears irrelevant for entities other than government, semi-government, and autonomous bodies, and on the other hand, use of Bangla in vehicle number plates is already being implemented by the BRTA that perhaps makes the High Court’s order redundant partially.
Nevertheless, the order passed is still binding by virtue of the doctrine of stare decisis, and hence the order must be implemented. But what would be the likely impact, once the HC’s order is implemented, in respect of the signboards, banners, electronic media advertisements and nameplates?
All that we see on the signboards, banners, electronic media advertisements, and nameplates, are either data or communication material in the form of trade names, trademarks, product or service description, marketing approaches, etc. They are the outcome of expressions of thoughts or ideas of individuals, entities or businesses, which encompass the freedom of expression and intellectual property rights (IPR).
The trade names or trademarks that we see may include logos, symbols, signs, marks, or words which usually identify the products or services of the registered owner or user. On the flip side, the registered owner or user of a mark has the legal right to be represented through using his or her respective mark too.
We come across plenty of such trademarks or trade names in Bangladesh that contain words written mostly in English. International companies or brands that have global footprints (including in Bangladesh) have their trademarks written in English. Such trademarks are well known marks and were never converted into Bangla.
Likewise, plenty of local brands are written in English too. These are usually done as part of such companies’ branding or marketing strategy, which is designed to attract the target consumer base and considering the consumers’ demand and choice. This again is the outcome of the freedom of expression enshrined under Article 39 of the constitution.
Therefore it appears that the order passed by the HC substantially conflicts with Article 39 of the constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right that every citizen may exercise, subject to observing the exceptions. Any law, including the orders passed by the Supreme Court that conflicts, or is inconsistent with, the fundamental rights, shall be void pursuant to Article 26 (1) of the constitution. To this extent, the order passed by High Court is void ab initio.
Nevertheless, execution of the order passed by the High Court, if implemented at all, will result in compelling countless individuals and businesses to convert the content of their signboards, banners, and electronic media advertisements into Bangla. This means that individuals and businesses that currently have their trade names and trademarks written in English will have to convert the same into Bangla too.
This would not only undermine the spirit of freedom of speech, but also infringe on the rights of such individuals or businesses concerned. It would have far-reaching impacts in terms of IPR licensing too.
Besides, any noncompliance by the individuals or businesses in this regard might create additional scope for corruption and harassment.
Therefore, the order passed by the HC, despite being said to be in the public interest, very much appears to defeat the interest of the public. The litigant filing public interest litigation (PIL) must prove to the satisfaction of the court that the petition is being filed for a genuine public interest and not frivolously.
Justice PN Bhagawati in the case of SP Gupta v Union of India [AIR 1982 SC 149], held that “any member of the public or social action group acting bonafide can invoke the Writ Jurisdiction of the High Courts or the Supreme Court seeking redressal against violation of a legal or constitutional rights of persons who due to social or economic or any other disability cannot approach the Court.” It may, however, be pertinent to mention that the Supreme Court of India has introduced certain guidelines to regulate the management and disposal of PILs which helps to prohibit abuse of the PIL system in India. It may be the time for Bangladesh Supreme Court too to consider bringing in similar guidelines.
Those who do not write these signs in Bangla, we believe, have as much respect for the Bangla language as the litigant. It comes from within. It is better if we do not attempt to impose or earn it through enforcement. Otherwise, we will be dwelling in Jinnah’s realm.
- See more at: http://www.dhakatribune.com/op-ed/2014/may/21/are-we-jinnah%E2%80%99s-realm#sthash.sUp3HRyE.dpuf