India Uncut

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Friday, August 18, 2006

The language of justice

It's bad enough to have courts that take years, or even decades, to decide cases, but it's even worse when you can't understand what the judge has decided because of his English. Mumbai Mirror reports that an advocate of the Mazgaon Court, Jamal Khan, has approached the Bombay High Court with a complaint against a magistrate there, SR Bedgale. Khan's complaint is that "[t]he English used by the magistrate is incomprehensible." Some examples he cites:
• "I cannot give the exact time when I admitted the hospital after the incident".

• "I was fallen down at my residence"; "I detained conscious at hospital".

• "They assaulted with the help of hands and legs".

• "Ganesh Chauvan tried to assault me to my face but I prohibited through my left hand."
I'm not sure how many languages the court is allowed to conduct its business in, but it's ludicrous if court officials aren't proficient in whichever language they choose to use. It's not that Bedgale is an exception, though -- the article quotes an advocate named YS Qureshi reporting a classic order by a magistrate named AD Chaudhary in 1990, in which Chaudhary said:
I have a woman before me who has a milk sucking baby. I have personally verified her sex and found that she is a woman and thus be given bail.
This, I must state with the highest admiration, is worthy of HT Tabloid, which runs a story today with the immortal headline, "Ex-IGP turns wife into daughter!" My joy knows no bounds.

(Previous posts with Purplocity/Verniness: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.)
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