The Supreme Court on Tuesday, while declining to stay the trial in the disproportionate assets case against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa pending in a special court in Bangalore, permitted the Presiding Officer of the trial court to engage the services of a person who was well versed in Tamil and English for rectifying the defects in translation of deposition of witnesses.
A Bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma passed this order after hearing senior counsel L. Nageswara Rao, appearing for Ms. Jayalalithaa and senior counsel Altaf Ahmed for Tamil Nadu.
The Bench in its order said a fair trial is part of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. To ensure a fair trial, it is necessary that defects in the translation of the depositions be corrected.
It said, “In the facts and circumstances of this case, we deem it appropriate to permit the Presiding Officer to engage the services of a person who is well versed both in Tamil and English languages, who should be available to the Presiding Officer and to the parties as and when it becomes imperative. The State [is] to bear the expenses of the expert.”
“Mr. Nageshwar Rao submits that 250 witnesses have already been examined and if there is any defect in translation of the depositions of those witnesses, the Presiding Officer may pass necessary orders after hearing counsel for the parties. The prayer is reasonable and we order accordingly,” the Bench said.
Earlier, Mr. Rao submitted that the depositions of witnesses, were translated into English since Tamil was not the court language in Karnataka. The quality of translation was poor and to conduct the trial properly, it was imperative that all records were correctly translated and placed before the court.