The World Classical Tamil Conference began with a bang in Coimbatore on Wednesday. At the same time, the Madras High Court Bench here provided one more reason for Tamil enthusiasts to rejoice.
For the first time, a lawyer was permitted to argue a criminal case entirely in Tamil for nearly 55 minutes! Pon. Muthuramalingam, a former Minister and lawyer, argued the criminal appeal, filed by two convicts in a 2007 murder case, before a Division Bench comprising Justice M. Chockalingam and Justice M. Duraiswamy. The judges recorded their appreciation of the counsel's effort. They acquitted both the convicts of all charges for want of evidence.
The lawyer began his arguments by addressing the court as “Matchimaiporundhiya Neethimandrathin Neethibadhigalukku En Siramthaazhntha Vanakkangal (my humble salutations to the judges of this honourable court)” and went on to thank the Chief Minister, Union Minister [M.K. Alagiri], judges and advocates who supported the use of Tamil in the High Court. He used only a few English words such as ‘dollar chain,' ‘bracelet,' ‘plastic' and ‘abrupt' during the course of his arguments. But for these, he came out with exact translations of many English words in criminal jurisprudence. He used the expressions, ‘saandru porul' to refer to material objects recovered by the police and ‘aalugai' for jurisdiction and so on.
At the end of the arguments, Mr. Justice Chockalingam jocularly told counsel in Tamil: “I think you have put forth all important points. If you continue to argue for some more time, the lawyers who are now agitating for the implementation of Tamil might start thinking the other way round.”