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Why is justice delivered only in English?

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By Harshmeet Singh

In July this year, while answering a PIL, the Gujarat High Court asserted that only English can be used in the proceedings of the High Court. Furthermore, it also said that the litigant of the PIL must submit all the concerned documents in English and speak in English; automatically making anyone without the knowledge of English ineligible to file a PIL in the court! In order to represent yourself in your vernacular language, it said, you need to gain a ‘no objection’ from the other party, implying that before fighting a case against your opponents, you need to take their permission just to present your case. If this doesn’t highlight our affinity towards our colonial past, nothing does.

When the Modi government came to power last year, it pushed for making Hindi the official language in a number of central ministries. So when a lawyer named Shiv Sagar Tiwari filed a PIL in the Supreme Court, urging it to put an ‘end to British legacy’, everyone expected the government to take his cause further. But much to the surprise of everyone, the Government blew away the idea of making Hindi the official language in country’s higher judiciary.

To defend its position, the government cited a 2008 report from the Law commission which said that “no language should be thrust on any section of the people against their will since it is likely to become counterproductive”. However, what remains unexplained is how English serves the purpose of being the language of justice.

The present system means that for a law aspirant to reach the highest stage of his career, he must not only be proficient in his law related subjects, but also be equally proficient in English. All the non-English speakers are thus at a disadvantage even before they enter the legal profession. Not only the lawyers, but the common man too is affected by this rule.

A non-English speaker will never comprehend what his lawyers are stating on his behalf in the court. Imagine a person fighting to save your life, by putting forward the arguments that you can’t even comprehend! This doesn’t seem to fit into the idea of justice.

According to the clause (2) of the Article 348 of the Indian constitution, the Governor of a state, after acquiring the President’s consent, may authorize Hindi to be used in the proceedings of the concerned state’s high court. Thus far, only the Governors of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have made such a provision. Over the years, a number of language activists have demanded the use of vernacular languages in state’s official work, including the judiciary.

The constitution doesn’t prescribe any language for the lower courts in the country. Though a number of district courts hear cases in the local language, they face trouble of a different kind. All the documents related to the case need to be later translated into English since they need to be sent to the High Court, which only admits documents written in English. To avoid this humungous workload, a number of district courts now prefer to take up cases in English.

While any change in the court’s language doesn’t seem to be an imminent agenda for the government, one just hopes that justice isn’t ‘lost in translation’.

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Triple Talaq Ban in India: Union Cabinet Passes Bill Making the Practice a Criminal Offence

The BMMA celebrates its victory over the much-debated practice of instant divorce

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Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban
Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban, VOA News
  • Supreme court had ruled that the practice of triple talaq as illegal in August 2017.
  • On December 15, the Union Cabinet passed a bill which would make it a criminal offence
  • .The bill recommends a sentence of imprisonment for three years in case of a violation.
  • The bill also makes provisions for “subsistence allowance” for the women divorced through triple talaq.

On December 15, the Union Cabinet of India cleared a draft legislation, which would make the controversial practice of triple talaq a criminal offence in India, a violation of which may result in imprisonment for a period of three years for the husband. The recently approved bill, deemed as the ‘Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’, was framed by a group of ministers including the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and the Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and was headed by the Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

What is triple talaq

The practice of triple talaq, or talaq-e-biddat, is a Islamic ritual through which a man might divorce his wife by uttering the word ‘talaq’, that is, the Arabic word for ‘divorce’, three times. The controversial practice, which dates back to Islamic scriptures of the 8th century AD, was a common one among the Muslim population in India, often enacted through letters, emails, text messages, Skype and Whatsapp.

The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
The practice of triple talaq still continues, in spite of the ban, VOA News

Triple Talaq Ban

On August 22, 2017, the Supreme Court of India had banned the archaic practice of triple talaq, after a long and hard legal battle fought by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), also known as the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement. “Triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Holy Quran and consequently, it violates Shariat … What is held to be bad in the Holy Quran cannot be good in Shariat and, in that sense, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well,” they had declared, making India the 23rd nation to ban the practice of unilateral divorce, after Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Many non-governmental Islamic organizations, along with certain clerics had opposed the verdict, on the grounds that it was an infringement of their right to religion, which is ensured by Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court, however, had decided to uphold Article 14 of the Constitution, which grants every citizen equality before the law. The verdict had met with mixed reactions among the people of India, attracting applause as well as apprehension all over the country.

The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
Women can now demand subsistence allowance for themselves and minor children, VOA News

However, in spite of the Supreme Court verdict, there have been reports of instant divorces performed through the process of oral declaration, as many continued to ignore the various advisories issued by the government.
The new bill approved by the government also makes provisions for Muslim Women to demand “subsistence allowance” for herself and her minor children from her husband, in case she feels victimised by the now illegal practice of triple talaq.

 

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Love Jihad Case : Kerala’s State Women Commission Directs SP to submit report on Hadiya’s Condition

24 year old Akhila had converted to Islam and taken the name Hadiya to marry Shafin Jahan.  However, their marriage was declared null and void by the High Court of Kerala

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Office of Kerala Women Comission
Office of Kerala Women Comission. Official Website KWC

Kerala, October 28, 2017 : A day after a video of Hadiya pleading to be ‘saved’ from her father’s brutalities was released, Kerala’s State Women Commission has directed Kottayam Superintendent of Police to inquire and submit a report on Hadiya’s present conditions.

In the video release at a press conference in Kochi by social activist Rahul Eashwar, Hadiya can be heard saying, “You have to get me out. I am sure I will be killed tomorrow or the day after.” Hadiya claims that her father is physically assaulting her and pleads to be saved in the video before her voice trails away.

The direction came following reports that Hadiya is being sedated and physically abused at her parents’ house.

The State Women Commission has told the SP that an officer not less than the rank of a DSP should conduct the inquiry and submit a report on the condition of the 24-year old woman in love jihad case.

24 year old Akhila had converted to Islam and taken the name Hadiya to marry Shafin Jahan.  Their marriage was declared null and void by the High Court of Kerala after Hadiya’s father Ashokan has approached the court, claiming that his daughter had been forcefully converted and her alleged husband was involved in plans to take her out of the country for questionable reasons.

Consequently, Hadiya’s husband Shafin Jahan had approached the Supreme Court and challenged the order by the High Court of Kerala, which is still hearing the case.

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala

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Gorkhaland: SC allows withdrawl of Central Forces from Darjeeling

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The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 27: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Centre to withdraw seven companies of central paramilitary forces from trouble-torn Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal where the agitation for Gorkhaland, a separate state for Gorkhas took a violent turn.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud directed the Centre to withdraw the seven companies of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPF) for being used for election duties in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

The bench also sought a response from the West Bengal government on the Centre’s appeal against the High Court’s order putting on hold its decision to withdraw 10 of the 15 companies of the central paramilitary forces deployed in the hill district.

The apex court also stayed the pending proceedings before the High Court and said that it will deal with the case in a holistic manner and posted the appeal of the Centre for further hearing on November 27.

In an interim order, the High Court had stayed the withdrawal of CAPF from the Darjeeling hills till October 27 after the state government approached it against the Centre’s decision.(IANS)