It could very well signal the beginning of the end of the monopoly of polished, English-speaking lawyers in the Delhi High Court.
On Friday, the court — for the first time in its 44-year history — allowed a lawyer to argue in Hindi. Even the judge interacted with the lawyer in the same language.
It happened in court No. 9 presided over by Justice Rekha Sharma who seemed to be agreeing with the view of lawyer Goninder Singh that advocates should be allowed to argue in the national language.
Singh said he will be able to express more effectively if he is allowed to argue in Hindi as it had been his medium of instruction during his career
Justice Sharma asked the lawyer why the petition was not drafted in Hindi, to which he replied that it would have been rejected at the filing counter itself as they do not have any direction to accept writ petitions in Hindi.
The development comes at a time when 3,000 lawyers across Delhi have signed a memorandum addressed to the Delhi High Court Chief Justice for allowing them to argue in Hindi.
Surprisingly their plea in the form of a writ petition had been rejected in January this year.
Hindi is allowed in High Courts of Rajasthan, Allahabad and Madhya Pradesh.
Says lawyer Ashok Aggarwal who had amassed the support of 3,000 lawyers for the cause: “Definitely a good beginning. There are large number of efficient lawyers in trial courts who hesitate to appear in High Court just because rules insist English,” he says.
Will cut lawyer fee
“I hope many other judges also follow suit,” says Aggarwal
He says there were instances were trial court lawyers engaged other lawyers in High Court just as they were not proficient in English. As a result the litigant had to pay a higher fee to the lawyers even though he did not wish to”.
“We hear litigants from economically weaker sections and illiterate say: ‘Judge saab aur mere vakil saab ke beech kuch behes hua lekin mujhe kuch samajh nahi aya (There was some interaction between my lawyer and judge but I could understand anything).’ Allowing argument in Hindi would help such clients to follow their case more accurately,” says Aggarwal.