By- Divya Makanaboina
The Minister for Union Law, Ravishankar Prasad, announced that the Supreme Court judgments are now being translated into the country’s nine local dialects and posted to the Court’s website. The Supreme Court has begun posting the version of its judgements translated into more national languages. Many of the Court’s judgments the year before and earlier this year are now accessible in local dialects such as Malayalam, Tamil and Punjabi. The decisions related to a state are often translated and published in that state’s language.
The translation of judgments concerns cases which occur under the Supreme Court ‘s appellate jurisdiction in respect of the following divisions: “labour matters, Rent Act matters, land acquisition and requisition matters, service matters, compensation matters, criminal matters, family law matters, ordinary civil matters, personal law matters, religious and charitable endowments matters, simple money and mortgage matters, eviction under the Public Premises (Eviction) Act matters, land laws and agriculture tenancies and matters relating to consumer protection.”
The Supreme Court had started making its judgments accessible in regional languages in the last year. A new tab entitled ‘Vernacular Judgements’ has been introduced to the Supreme Court Web homepage. Initially, the translation was made to six vernacular languages: “Assamese, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Odia and Telugu.” While the translated judgements will be uploaded on the Supreme Court’s official website, daily orders of court proceedings will be provided to litigants and lawyers who request for it.
On discovering that the translation is not being practised for the language of Malayalam, the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had then written to the then Chief Justice of India and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad requesting that all Supreme Court judgements should be made available in Malayalam also. Here anyway, in cases relating to Kerala, the Supreme Court is seen to have treated this plea favourably and is making available the Malayalam edition of judgements.
Similarly, Tamil Nadu politician and DMK Chief MK Stalin had requested the then Chief Justice Gogoi to include Tamil. Although he accepted the Court’s decision to translate judgements in vernacular languages, he observed that it is disappointing not to find the Tamil language in the list.
Towards this end, it is claimed that former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi officially approved a program designed by the “in-house” electronic software arm of the Supreme Court for the purpose. The decision to make multiple language judgments at the Supreme Court is reportedly attributed to a symposium in Kochi in 2017, after which President Ram Nath Kovind stressed a need to make judgments in local dialects for the convenience of non-English speakers.
It is also stated that local language interpretations of issues pertaining to individual litigants will begin within civil disputes, criminal matters, landlord-tenant issues and matrimonial discord will be undertaken. The translation is being processed by making use of a natively developed software by the electronic software wing of the Supreme Court.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also reported that the use of artificial intelligence in translating judgments of the Supreme Court into local languages is now under consideration and a committee of artificial intelligence has been set up for the same.
All those native dialect versions, however, include a ‘disclaimer’ at the conclusion added to it. It notes that the judgements reported in English are to be used for both official and practical purposes. This also clarifies that the version translated into regional languages is for the clearer appreciation of the litigants.