Court Cases in India are Getting Lost in Translation

April 22, 2013

By Ofer Tirosh


Recently, some district court cases in India have led to confusion due to important documents being mistranslated or lost in translation.  India is already known for it’s slow and cumbersome judicial system, and the translation issue is only adding to the problem.  

In one case, a woman residing in Vizag filed for divorce, but because the documents were in Odiya, the case remained pending for several months before the correct documents were received by her husband.

“A lot of technicalities are involved in getting all documents translated into English and then file the transfer petitions. It was filed middle of last year and is still pending before the apex court. These delays could be avoided had courts followed English instead of regional languages," says Anita Salabh Jain, an advocate for the issue. 

In yet another example, a man filing for divorce from his wife, is still waiting for the language department to clear up the documents and get them over to his wife to complete the case. 

After the World Telugu Conference, special attention was given to documents written in Telugu. Language activists in other provinces have also placed emphasis on vernacular language since then.

"All proceedings in the Supreme Court and in every high court are in English language as per the Constitution of India. However, the language to be used in lower courts hasn't been specified by the Constitution,” said Muralidhar Kuppili, president of a forum of legal professionals.

In many cases, even when translators with degrees are brought in for a translation, if the judge isn’t satisfied with it, he may order another translator, which leads to delays.

For more information about the court cases in India being lost in translation, refer to the Times of India website.



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