'Sobering': CJI after hearing-impaired lawyer argued her case in SC for the first time

CJI D.Y. Chandrachud noted that such accessibility should have been implemented earlier, emphasising the responsibility of institutions with greater resources to promote inclusivity

CJI D.Y. Chandrachud (Photo: 
Bar and Bench)
CJI D.Y. Chandrachud (Photo: Bar and Bench)


Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Tuesday, 26 September, said that it was sobering for him when for the first time, a specially-abled lawyer attended the proceedings of the Supreme Court with the assistance of a sign-language interpreter.

At an event organised by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAoRA), the CJI said that such accessibility should have happened long back and institutions, having more resources as compared to individuals, must shoulder more responsibilities.

"I must say that it was sobering for me - to see how long it took us as a system to make it a history in our court and it should have happened long back," he said, adding that it was a heartening feature to know.

A deaf lawyer was permitted on Friday, 22 September, to attend the court proceedings in Chief Justice’s court virtually with the assistance of a sign-language interpreter.

"We were addressed by a lawyer with a hearing impairment with a sign-language interpreter. She was in Serial No. 37. We opened the link and the interpreter was on screen in front of me," the CJI recalled. He said that the interpreter translated everything from Serial No. 1 to 36 for the lawyer as well and not just 37.

"So, she knew the mood of the court - whether judges were irritable or pleasant that day," he added.

In his address, CJI Chandrachud stressed for more transparent and inclusive institutions, saying that as long as "divergent means convert into common goal, disagreements are a sign of healthy institutional arrangement".

On the role of the advocate-on-record (AoR), he said that AoR knows the pulse of what is happening in the top court and they "have a special responsibility to bear and understand the traditions of the court" being the officers of the court.

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