HC engages sign language interpreters

New Delhi: In a step aimed at enhancing access to justice to the differently-abled, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday engaged sign language interpreters to enable hearing-impaired persons to understand the court proceedings.

For the first time, two sign-language interpreters stood at the podium near the judge and translated the proceedings through their actions to the hearing-impaired persons who were present in the court to attend a case relating to making films accessible to those suffering from visual or hearing impairments.

Justice Prathiba M Singh, who was holding the court, directed that sign language interpreters shall continue to be engaged in future for all the hearings of this matter.

The court also directed that the interpreters’ fees be directly deposited in their respective bank accounts.

Advocate Rahul Bajaj, who himself is visually impaired and represents the petitioners in the case, submitted that three other similarly-placed hearing-impaired persons joined the proceedings Tuesday to understand the manner in which hearing- impaired persons can also attend the court hearings.

He said some hearing-impaired persons also joined the proceedings virtually.

The court was hearing a petition by four persons suffering from visual and hearing impairments who sought directions to make Shah Rukh Khan-starrer “Pathaan”, accessible to them. Deepika Padukone and John Abraham are also in the movie.

The four petitioners — a law student, two lawyers and a disability rights activist —have contended that under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (PWD Act), the government has to take

measures to ensure access to content to those suffering from disabilities. While

three of them are visually impaired, the fourth one is hearing impaired.

In April, Justice Singh had said Bajaj may provide the details of the sign language interpreters whose services can be engaged for the hearing on the next date.

The Registrar General may on the administrative side consider if the interpreter could be arranged for the next date of hearing in this matter, the court had said.

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