Articles 344 (1) and 351, Constitution of India 1950
Draft Schedule VII-A (Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India 1950) was discussed in the Constituent Assembly on 12, 13 and 14 September 1949. This Schedule concerned Draft Articles 301B and 301I of the Draft Constitution of Indian 1948. It listed out the official languages of India.
The Draft Schedule was not part of the Draft Constitution 1948. A Drafting Committee member introduced it in the Assembly alongside a new Part XIV-A that dealt with the Language of the Union. The discussions in the Assembly primarily revolved around the inclusion of more languages in the Schedule.
A member wanted the entry Kanarese to be changed to Kannada. He informed the Assembly that Kanarese was a hybrid form of Kannada only used by missionaries and it was more appropriate to use Kannada. A few members insisted that ‘English’ too be added as a language in the Draft Schedule as this was the language of the Anglo-Indian community, who were an integral part of India. Some argued for the inclusion of Sanskrit on the grounds that Sanskrit was India’s ancient language and the best means of recognizing it would be to mention in it in this part of the Constitution. One member pleaded with the Assembly that the Adivasi languages like Mundari, Gondi and Oraon, that are spoken by a significant section of the population also be added to the list. He believed that by including these Adivasi languages, they would be honouring the languages, ‘of the most ancient peoples of this country’.
The Assembly accepted the change from Kanarese to Kannada and also assented to the inclusion of Sanskrit in the Schedule. The Amended Schedule was adopted as a part of the Constitution on 14 September 1949. At the time of adoption, the Draft Schedule contained 14 official languages. Over the years, a number of Constitutional Amendments have expanded this list to now include 22 official languages.