Make Law Understandable to Layman

“Make Law Understandable to Layman” a PIL is filed in SC seeking direction to draft Statutes, Rules and Notifications in plain language. It seeks for directions for the use of plain language in drafting and issuing of all government communications, and for issuance of handbooks of the law of general public interest which are easily understandable to the layman.

The arguments of petitioner in brief

  • The petitioner seeks for directions to Bar Council of India to introduce a mandatory subject of “Legal Writing in Plain English” in 3 years and 5-year LL.B courses in India and imposition of page limit for pleadings and time limit for oral arguments before the Supreme Court.
  • Put in extra efforts to make pleadings “clear, crisp, concise and accurate”. It seeks for a limit of 50-60-page limit for pleadings of the parties and 20-30 page limits for replies to the pleadings to be imposed, the Petitioner contends that the limit should only be relaxed in exceptional cases of constitutional or public importance, involving lengthy arguments.
  • A time limit with respect to oral arguments; 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 contended that most lawyers write in “(1) wordy, (2) unclear, (3) pompous and (4) dull”. “We use eight words to say what can be said in two. We use arcane phrases to express commonplace ideas. Seeking to be precise, we become redundant. Seeking to be cautious, we become verbose. Our writing has teemed with legal jargon and legalese. And the story goes?”
  • The petitioner submitted that the Constitution, Law and Legal System are for the common man, and yet it is the common man who is mostly ignorant of the system and even wary of it. “Because he (common citizen) neither understands the system, not the laws. Everything is so much complicated and confusing” – This, the plea states, violates the fundamental right of the masses by denying them Access to Justice, a facet of Article 14 read with Articles 21 and 39A. Therefore, he argued that the Legislature and the Executive should enact “precise and unambiguous laws, and as far as possible, in plain language”. 
  • A guide in plain English and other vernacular languages should be issued by the Government to explain laws of general public interest.

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