Over 450 verdicts of the Supreme Court have been translated into 12 regional languages using an artificial intelligence software, with Hindi topping the list of translations followed by Tamil.
While 469 verdicts have been translated since the launch of the ambitious project in August 2018, it came to a halt during the pandemic and is yet to be revived.
“The focus on vernacular languages is more than ever but like many other functions of the Court, Covid impacted the priority given to the project,” a Supreme Court official said on the condition of anonymity.
An analysis by The Indian Express showed that 86 per cent of the 469 verdicts were translated before March 2020 before the pandemic began, and the last verdict to be translated was in October last year.
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Of the 469 translated judgments, 243 translations are in Hindi while Tamil ranks second with 70. There were 42 translated verdicts in Malayalam, 25 in Marathi, 23 each in Kannada and Oriya, and 19 in Telugu. Verdicts were also translated into Urdu, Assamese, Punjabi and one in Nepali.
The project to translate select verdicts of the court to regional languages was mooted after President Ram Nath Kovind in October 2017 suggested that translations of judgments must be made available to litigants.
“It is important to not only take justice to the people, but also to make it understandable to litigating parties in a language they know. High Courts deliver judgments in English, but we are a country of diverse languages,” the President had said speaking at the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Kerala High Court.
In July 2019, then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi announced the project to translate judgments. The Supreme Court began by translating verdicts into six languages — Assamese, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Odia and Telugu — through an artificial intelligence platform developed in-house. A committee headed by former SC judge L Nageswara Rao looked into the working of the AI tools to ensure the translation was seamless.
The verdicts translated in nine languages had a 90 per cent accuracy rate and the errors were fixed manually before uploading them, according to court officials. They said the software has also been shared with some high courts.
Sources said that the eventual goal is to translate verdicts of High Courts instantaneously to ensure litigants save time and cost while making an appeal before the top court.
On May 1, speaking at the Chief Justices Conference, PM Narendra Modi and CJI NV Ramana underlined the need to “encourage the use of local languages in courts”. The CJI, at the same event, had earlier highlighted the need for some courts to conduct business in local languages.
Courts often rely on a panel of translators to translate verdicts of lower courts where regional languages are used.
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