New Delhi, Sep 26, 2023: The Supreme Court for the first time heard a case argued by a deaf lawyer via an interpreter using sign language.
The control room that managed virtual proceedings had declined to give screen space to Sara Sunny. Soon, her interpreter Saurabh Roy Choudhary appeared on the screen when the turn for their hearing came and Mr Choudhary started his arguments before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, reading from the sign language that Ms Sunny gave.
Chief Justice Chandrachud then instructed the control room and the interpreter to give screen space to Ms Sunny. After this, both appeared on the screen and made their arguments before the Supreme Court.
Ms Sunny’s appearance was arranged by advocate-on-record Sanchita Ain.
Chief Justice Chandrachud has been calling for ensuring equal access to justice. Last year, he ordered a detailed accessibility audit of the Supreme Court complex to make the justice system more accessible and to understand the challenges faced by differently abled people when they come to the court.
Chief Justice Chandrachud is also the adoptive father of two differently abled girls.
Earlier this year, everyone in the Supreme Court was pleasantly surprised when Chief Justice Chandrachud brought his two daughters for a memorable tour of his workplace. He explained to his daughters how the court worked and what he did there.
"The significance of this moment ties in with the challenges that remain on the path to true inclusivity and accessibility within the Indian legal system," said Sanchita Ain.
The administration plays an active role in furthering the reach of sign language, she said.
On Sunday, the Supreme Court also for the first time used sign language interpreters at its two-day national stakeholders consultation on child protection. The invitation for the event and programme details were issued in Braille for the first time to help the visually impaired read them, The annual event was organised by the Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare.
Chief Justice Chandrachud last year formed a Supreme Court committee on accessibility with the aim of understanding the hardships faced by differently abled people.
The Supreme Court has been conducting national stakeholder consultations annually, bringing partners from the Women and Child Development Ministry, other government sectors and the national and state commissions for protection of children’s rights.