The Constitution of the Czechoslovak Republic/An act dated the 29th of February 1920 in pursuance of § 129 of the Constitutional Charter establishing the principles of language rights within the Czechoslovak Republic
DATED THE 29th OF FEBRUARY 1920
IN PURSUANCE OF § 129 OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CHARTER ESTABLISHING THE PRINCIPLES OF LANGUAGE RIGHTS WITHIN THE CZECHOSLOVAK REPUBLIC.
The Czechoslovak language shall be the state, official language of the Republic (Art. 7 of the Treaty made between the leading Allied and Associated Powers and the Czechoslovak Republic and signed at St. Germain on Laye on the 10th September 1919).
It is thus in particular the language:
1. In which the work of all the courts, offices, institutions, undertakings and organs of the Republic shall be conducted, in which they shall issue their proclamations and notices as well as their inscriptions and designations. (Exceptions to this section are laid down in § 2 and § 5 as well as in § 6 relating to Russinia.)
2. In which the principal text on state and other banknotes shall be printed.
3. Which the armed forces of the country shall use for the purpose of command and as the language of the service; in dealings with men and companies not knowing this language their mother tongue may also be used.
Detailed regulations will be issued as to the duty of state officials and employees, as well as of officials and employees of state institutions and undertakings to know the Czechoslovak language.
In respect of national and language minorities (Chap. 1. Treaty of St. Germain) the following rules shall apply:
It shall be the duty of courts, offices and organs of the Republic whose competence relates to a jurisdictional district in which according to the latest census at least 20% of the citizens speak the same language—and that a language other than Czechoslovak—to accept (in all matters which they have to settle on the ground of their competence applying to such a district) from any member of this minority any plaints in this language and to deal with plaints not only in the Czechoslovak language but also in that in which the plaint itself is presented. Where there are several district courts in one community that whole community shall be deemed to be a single jurisdictional district.
It shall be laid down by regulation to what extent and for what courts and offices it will be possible to restrict the settlement of cases to the language of the parties themselves. These courts and offices are those whose competence is limited to one district, namely a district with such a national minority, as well as courts and offices immediately subordinate to them.
Under similar conditions it is the duty of the Public Prosecutor to frame the charges against an accused speaking another tongue in this language too, or even in this language alone.
The executive authority shall determine in such cases what language shall be used.
If the party to any matter is not the initiator of the proceedings, he shall (if the other conditions of § 2 are fulfilled) be entitled on the same principles to have his case dealt with also in his own language, or even in it alone so far as it is known, or otherwise at his request.
In districts where there lives a national minority in the terms of § 2 the language of the national minority shall be used concurrently with the Czechoslovak language in proclamations and notices issued by the state courts, offices and organs and for their inscriptions and designations.
It is the duty of autonomic offices, representative councils and all public corporations in the state whatsoever to accept and to deal with oral or written matter in the Czechoslovak language.
It shall always be possible to make use of this language in meetings and conferences; proposals and suggestions put forward in this language must be dealt with.
The state executive authority shall determine upon the language to be used for public proclamations and notices and for the inscriptions and designations for which the autonomic ofﬁces are responsible.
It is the duty of the autonomic offices, representative councils and public corporations to accept—under the conditions of § 2—all matters presented to them in a language other than Czechoslovak and to deal with the same, and also to permit the use of another language in meetings and conferences.
The State offices, using the state ofﬁcial language, shall, in their official proceedings in those parts of the Republic which before the 28th of October 1918 pertained to the Kingdoms and Lands represented in the Imperial (Austro-Hungarian) Council or to the Kingdom of Prussia use regularly the Czech language, in Slovakia regularly the Slovak language.
Matters presented in the Czech language and officially dealt with in Slovak or presented in Slovak and dealt with in Czech shall be deemed to have been dealt with in the language in which they were presented.
The instruction in all schools established for members of a national minority shall be given in their language. Likewise educational and cultural institutions set up for them shall be administered in their language. (Art. 9. Treaty of St. Germain).
The Diet which shall be set up for Russinia shall have the right reserved to it of settling the language question for this territory in a manner consonant with the unity of the Czechoslovak State. (Art. 10. Treaty of St. Germain.)
Until this settlement has been made this law shall apply, due regard, however, being paid to the special circumstances of that territory in respect of language.
Disputes regarding the use of a language in the courts, offices, institutions, undertakings and organs of the State as well as in the autonomic offices and public corporations shall be settled by the competent organs of State control as matters of state administration detached from the causes out of which they arose.
Details as to the carrying out of this law shall be fixed by the State executive authority which will, in the spirit of this law, lay down rules regulating the use of languages for autonomic offices, representative bodies, and public corporations as well as for those offices and public organs whose competence extends to districts which are less than jurisdictional districts, or organs which have no district of their own.
The rules shall also prescribe what measures shall be taken towards facilitating the dealings of officials with persons who do not speak the language in which the Court, office or organ conducts its business in the sense of this law. They shall also prescribe the measures to be taken to protect the different parties from legal damage which might accrue to them from ignorance of the language in question.
Exceptions to the terms of this act necessary for securing undisturbed administration may also be made by regulation for the period of five years commencing from the day on which this law comes into force.
Finally rules shall be laid down which are essential for securing the successful carrying out of this law.
This law shall come into force on the day on which it is promulgated. It abrogates all rules relating to language which were in force previous to the 28th of October 1918.
All the Ministers are entrusted with the execution of this law.
|T. G. MASARYK,