Monday December 11, 2017

SC rejects PIL seeking translation of judgments into regional languages

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that sought direction to make the court judgments available in Hindi and other regional languages mentioned in the Schedule VIII of the Constitution.

The PIL was filed by advocate Suhaas R Joshi, who urged SC to give directions to the Registrar General of the Supreme Court to develop mechanisms to translate court judgments into various regional languages.

Joshi had submitted in his petition that non-availability of authentic translations of court judgments was causing immense difficulties for the common people who do not understand English.

The petition stated: “The absence of authoritative translations of the judgments of this Hon’ble Court puts a litigant and his counsel, not learned in English, at a great disadvantage in understanding and obtaining judgments for reliance in a court where proceedings are otherwise conducted in vernacular language/s.

Highlighting how weaker sections of society were exposed to exploitation due to non-availability of judgments in vernacular languages, the petition stated: “The non-availability of the authoritative translations of the judgments of this Hon’ble Court to a litigant or his counsel sets in a situation in the local courts where the weaker parties become vulnerable to manipulation and pressure by the local people with greater wealth, education, and connections, thereby creating asymmetrical power relations.”

However, the plea was rejected by the three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur, Justice A K Sikri, and Justice R Banumathi.

The bench said: We cannot pass such direction as the court language is English.

But, this is not the first time such a plea has been rejected. In January, the government had submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court rejecting the proposal to amend the Constitution and make Hindi the official language in the apex court and the high courts.

The government’s affidavit was in response to a PIL filed by a lawyer, Shiv Sagar Tiwari, who had contended that the use of English as an official language in higher judiciary was a ‘legacy of the British rule’ and hence should be scrapped.

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Debate over Tibet’s freedom lands Young Tibetans in dilemma

Parents in Dharamsala worry that their Hindi-speaking children are too Indian, while new arrivals from Tibet to Dharamsala struggle to fit in

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Dalai Lama. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
– by Ranjuaery Dhadwal 

August 24, 2016:
If Tibet gets independence today, will the new English speaking generation prefer to go to their own country? The question that haunts the older generation.
Especially the generation which came to India with or after Dalai Lama. The generation, which was born in Tibet and fled to India or other parts of the world are worried that the  Tibetan language is only left in few phrases in younger generation’s memory. Now the trend is that more and more Tibetans want their children to remain in India because it has more cultural proximity with Tibet.
Indian Government has opened up Central schools in almost all the Tibetan settlements in India, where Tibetan Language is taught. It’s been more than 60 years since the first wave of Tibetans fled Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh following a failed uprising against Chinese Communist Party rule and the subsequent brutal military crackdown.
Representational Image: Tibetan Teachings Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Representational Image: Tibetan Teachings. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Roughly 85,000 people who first fled Tibet mainly clustered around a central core, built around Dharamsala and the Dalai Lama; in the mountains of India, Nepal, and Bhutan- next to their homeland. Now after three decades, new chapter for Tibetans living outside has emerged. As the prospects of returning to Tibet is diminishing, more and more Tibetans are adopting refugee life in South Asia for the West. Tibetan Government in Exile’s lobbying has arranged for large-scale resettlement programs that bring in hundreds of immigrants every day.

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Dalai Lama says that intermarriage for Tibetans was inevitable but Tibetan language and culture is important and needs to be preserved. Some of them have married Western and Indian women and are having half-Tibetan children. Most of the young Tibetan women too prefer to marry western or Indian people for a settled life.

In an interview Dalai Lama said that had he adopted the path of violence for Tibet’s independence, the Tibetan race would have extinct, rather he is approaching the middle way path for Tibet. Within the community, Tibetan Youth Congress is demanding total independence from China.

The present scenario is that Children born in India or in west are not aware of their culture or traditions. They are basically Americanized or Indianized. Most of them are into higher studies instead of joining the freedom struggle. One of the youngsters in Dharmashala has got his MBA from the University of Oregon, in entrepreneurship. He will decide whether or not to go back to Tibet once it gets independence. At present, he wants to start his own venture. He said, even if they go back to Tibet, they have to start from scratch. Though they show their love for Tibet but there is a disconnect between knowing what you are and actively feeling that way.

Mixed-race Tibetans that came or are coming to India or going to other parts of the world are grappling with issues that how they will fit into the Tibetan cause- how to preserve a sense of connection to a far-flung homeland and how to handle the perception that they are contributing to the community that still feels like it must fight to preserve itself. There is clearly an existencial crisis among these people. They are living in a era when a community, which was recognized for its cultural preservation (even though Beijing has destroyed many of the hallmarks of its culture) these people are struggling to know what exactly constitutes authentic Tibetan-ness.

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Parents in Dharamsala worry that their Hindi-speaking children are too Indian, while new arrivals from Tibet to Dharamsala struggle to fit in. Most of them only say that they have come to learn English. Some of mixed-race Tibetans has struggled to find their footing as well.

Tibetan welfare officer says, Young Tibetans would grow too concerned with money and they would give up on the goal of e returning to the Tibet. The Tibetan government continues to lobby Western governments to take in more of those currently living in South Asian settlements. Tashi  Phuntsok, says that he has been urging Tibetan families to keep up the language with their children and make sure they remember where they came from.

Ex Tibetan Youth Congress President Tseten Norbu says, that it should be the main object of the Youth Congress. This is the only organization which has proximity with young Tibetans. He further mentions that, since the Himchal Government has given voting rights to the Tibetans born here or are half Tibetan, hope of returning to Tibet of this generation is diminishing.

– Ranjuaery is a freelance contributer and can be contacted at ranjuaery@gmail.com

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Constitution bench to decide if SC is exempted from RTI Act

Besides this, another question was 'whether the information sought for amounts to interference in the functioning of the judiciary'

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Issue of Cruelty on Animals
Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia commons

New Delhi, August 17, 2016: The five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court will decide whether the apex court is exempted from disclosing information on the appointment of judges and other matters under the Right to Information Act.

The three-judge bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Prafulla C Pant, and Justice A M Khanwilkar on Wednesday referred the question to the five-judge bench, saying “A substantial questions of law is involved… which are required to be heard.”

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The entire issue is rooted in November 24, 2009, order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) upholding RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal’s plea seeking from the apex court complete information, including file notings, relating to the appointment of Justice H L Dattu, Justice A K Ganguly and Justice R M Lodha (since all retired) superseding their then seniors in various high courts.

Referring the matter to the Constitution bench, the three-judge bench reiterated the three questions framed earlier on November 26, 2010, when the issue was first referred to the Constitution bench by then Justice B Sudarshan Reddy and Justice S S Nijjar.

Citing the delay in hearing of the matter, counsel Prashant Bhushan told the bench that an impression was gaining ground that when it comes to others, the Supreme Court directs them, even the poll candidates, to disclose their assets but when it comes to judges, it shies away.

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As Bhushan pointed to the delay, Justice Gogoi asked him when did this matter last came up for hearing. When Bhushan told the court that it was sometime in the beginning of 2015, Justice Gogoi asked him, then why he did not mention it for an early hearing.

Reminding Bhushan that he was as much and equal partner in the march of transparency, Justice Gogoi said: “Why should anybody be shy of answering a question” referred by a bench of the Supreme Court.

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Having said this, Justice Gogoi told Bhushan that the matter needed to be heard by the Constitution bench, declining his plea that the issue has already been addressed by the Supreme Court in S P Gupta case.

The bench of Justice B Sudarshan Reddy and Justice S S Nijjar (since both retired) by their November 26, 2010, order had said that the independence of judiciary forms part of the basic structure of the Constitution of India.

The independence of the judiciary and the fundamental right to free speech and expression are of a great value and both of them are required to be balanced, the order had said.

The court then framed three questions to be examined by the Constitution bench that included “Whether the concept of independence of judiciary requires and demands the prohibition of furnishing of the information sought” under the RTI Act.

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Besides this, another question was “Whether the information sought for amounts to interference in the functioning of the judiciary.”

November 26, 2010, the order had asked the Constitution bench to examine whether the information sought could not be furnished as same would affect the credibility of the decision and come in the way of free and frank expression of honest opinion amongst the constitutional functionaries.

Lastly, the question referred to the Constitution bench was whether the information sought by the RTI activist Agarwal was exempt under Section 8(i)(j) of the Right to Information Act. (IANS)

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Shot in an Afghan firefight, 6 year-old Ameera is saved by American troops

U.S officials has confirmed that the girl’s family has ties with Taliban, hence it is dangerous to reveal her identity or her uncle’s who accompanied her to the base hospital. Media is calling her Ameera.

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Toys and gifts for Ameera fill her hospital room. Image Source: npr.org

The hospital on the sprawling Bagram Airfield does not many trauma cases these days expect one. In a firefight between American and Afghan soldiers and Taliban insurgents, a 6 year-old was shot. The gun battle resulted in death of her father, a Taliban fighter along with her mother and some siblings.

U.S officials has confirmed that the girl’s family has ties with Taliban, hence it is dangerous to reveal her identity or her uncle’s who accompanied her to the base hospital. Media is calling her Ameera.

It can be easily said that she represents the way Afghan war continues to play out since many U.S. troops have limited their role to just “advising and assisting” indigenous troops. Violence continues in Afghanistan and it has killed more children last year than any since record keeping began. The UN said many people were killed or got wounded in the 2015.

Nurses have Ameera draw henna patterns to distract her from the pain. Image sourve: npr.org
Nurses have Ameera draw henna patterns to distract her from the pain. Image sourve: npr.org

Dr. Chance Henderson, a a Texas-born orthopedic surgeon who has been treating her said if Ameera had gone to Afghan clinic “she’d definitely have had an amputation- and rightly so. That is the best way to save her life if you don’t have the means available to do what we have done in 12 or 20 surgeries.”

Ameera is being treated at an American hospital because she was shot in a firefight that involved their troops, so she has been receiving American care.

Dr Henderson also said, saving her would not save her from the danger posed by the wound but also from the danger of going back to live in Afghanistan without it.

“Her outlook on life as a single amputee that does not have a family is much different than it would be for us in the States,” he said. “Her future would be grim, and probably her life span would be short.”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chance Henderson, an orthopedic surgeon. Image source : npr.org
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chance Henderson, an orthopedic surgeon. Image source : npr.org

Air Force 1st Lt. Serena Matson remembered Ameera’s “nonstop crying” when she came in. Matson said, “She is little. She does not know us. We are not familiar-looking, and there are just a lot of people in and out of the room. She was just scared. ‘Who are these strange people? They don’t look like me. Where is my family?’ “

After many days of treatment, the staff member made her feel more comfortable. She got many toys, crayons and movies starring Mickey Mouse.

Even the staff member’s became fond of her, now Matson in her free time does Ameera’s hair, learning few Pashto words and teaching her little English.

Even though Ameera came through from the biggest challenge of her life , the doctor said that chances of saving her leg is still bleak and everything depends upon how the leg heals over the time.

“My daughter- that’s the first thing she asks me,” Henderson said. “‘How’s the leg doing, Dad?’ I do not want to give her bad news.”

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication from Amity school of communication, Noida. Contact the author at Twitter: bhaskar_ragha

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