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Supreme Court Allows Sign Language Interpreter For Deaf Lawyer In Historic First

Advocate Sarah Sunny is India's first hearing-impaired practicing lawyer.

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In a groundbreaking move, the Supreme Court, under the leadership of CJI D Y Chandrachud, has begun providing sign language interpretation for lawyers with hearing impairments. This progressive step was demonstrated in a recent case where a hearing-impaired advocate argued virtually with the assistance of a sign language interpreter.

Advocate-on-record Sanchita Ain requested the bench, led by the CJI, to permit deaf advocate Sarah Sunny to present a case regarding the rights of Persons with Disability (PwD) with the aid of a sign language interpreter.

The CJI granted the request, paving the way for the online hearing to proceed. The interpreter, Saurav Roychowdhury, swiftly conveyed the court proceedings to Sarah through sign language.

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The solicitor general, Tushar Mehta, expressed admiration for the interpreter's speed in interpreting the rapid-fire round of cases mentioned for urgent listing in the apex court. The CJI shared this sentiment.

The lawyer-interpreter duo then engaged in silent sign language exchanges, which were converted into arguments. The bench turned to the Centre for a response, and solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati stated that "an updated status report shall be filed by the Union government so that the petition can be finally disposed of on the next occasion."

This recent development aligns with CJI D Y Chandrachud's longstanding commitment to equal opportunities for PwD, evident in his numerous orders and judgments that reflect this stance.

In another notable case, Bhumika Trust founder president Jayant Singh Raghav, who is visually challenged, argued for the implementation of the proviso to Section 24 of the Rights of PwD Act, seeking higher assistance for persons with disabilities under welfare schemes and programs.

The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Central government on this matter, further reinforcing the commitment to equal opportunity and inclusivity.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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