Wednesday, December 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Move to amend Punjabi language Act
Punishment clause to be added
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 24
After years of advising its officials to use Punjabi in official work, the Punjab Government is considering to amend the Punjab Official Language Act by adding a punishment clause.

The State Language Department had earlier issued notices to all departmental heads and secretaries, asking for their objections on the issue. The notices, which were to be answered by November 30, stated that in case any department did not respond to it, it would be surmised that it did not have any objection.

Sources said while most departments had said they did not have any objections, a few had not replied.

Department Director M.L. Hasija said there were two proposals which were being considered. While one called for the amendment to the language Act by adding a definite punishment clause, the other called for adding the punishment clause in the Service Rules of the state government. The Director said much progress had been achieved in the recent past with a special column being added in the annual confidential report (ACR) of all government employees, making it mandatory for their superiors to write in the affirmative or negative whether they were using Punjabi as the official medium of written communication.

The sources, however, said the department had not been able to achieve complete success in this regard mainly because senior officers posted in the state secretariat were guilty on the count. “When senior officers flout the rules it is difficult to enforce them on junior staff’’, the sources said, adding that the department was left with the task of enforcing the use of Punjabi in district offices.

He said the department had, after a random check identified 379 defaulters. The department had received information that action had been taken against 100 persons and other cases were being processed.

The department had also come out with a Punjabi equivalence software which would be installed in computers, starting with the secretariat. The sources said though a Punjabi equivalence dictionary existed it was not being used.

The software had been developed keeping in mind excuses by officers that they were forced to use English words in communications because they did not know the Punjabi equivalent of the words. The department had also decided to put the programme on its website so that those who did not have computers could download it.

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