CJI shifts to Telugu to ensure peace between couple

Chief Justice N.V. Ramana  

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana on Wednesday switched to his mother tongue Telugu to pave the way for peace between a couple locked in a 20-year-old case.

Supreme Court judges usually resort to Hindi when they learn that litigants, mostly petitioners-in-person, are unable to speak or understand English. An interaction in a regional language between the Bench and a litigant has rarely been witnessed in the apex court.

Wednesday saw the Bench of Chief Justice Ramana and Justice Surya Kant make an effort to ensure that language barriers do not come in the way of access to justice in a country known for its linguistic diversity. Recent times have seen the Supreme Court translate its judgments from English to various regional languages. The objective is to help litigants and the public read the verdicts themselves and fully understand the law.

Events began to unfold in the virtual court hearing when the Bench noticed that the woman litigant, hailing from Andhra Pradesh, was finding it difficult to express herself freely in English.

On enquiring about it, the woman told the Bench that she was neither fluent in English nor Hindi.

The Chief Justice consulted Justice Kant about interacting with the litigant in Telugu. The CJI said he would translate for Justice Kant, who readily agreed.

Plaint against husband

The case concerned a harassment complaint filed by the woman against her husband under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code in 2001. The trial court had convicted the man and sentenced him to undergo one year of imprisonment and ₹1,000 in fine.

The High Court confirmed the conviction, but reduced his prison sentence to the period already undergone.

The woman had approached the apex court against the reduction in sentence. The court referred the case for mediation in Hyderabad in 2012, but the efforts for reaching a settlement had failed.

On Wednesday, the interaction with the CJI saw both sides agree to work towards an amicable settlement.

“The case would be amicably resolved thanks to the initiative of the Bench. The court advised the appellant [woman] that it could very well enhance the prison sentence of her husband, but he may, as a consequence, lose his job and may not be in a financial position to provide for her and their children. The marriage was still subsisting and he has been supporting the family for 18 years now,” advocate D. Ramakrishna Reddy, the husband’s lawyer, narrated the gist of the conversation in Telugu in court.

The case has been listed after two weeks.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 5:04:55 PM |

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