Aamchi Bhasha, Aamcha Korut

November 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

I came to this City to be a Criminal Lawyer (now that’s something you don’t hear too often, eh?). I was told that all investigations were conducted in Marathi, and if I wanted to do trial work, I had to learn Marathi. And I did. I watched Marathi films, read Marathi newspapers and books, insisted on talking to people in Marathi and now, I have passable Marathi. I’ve argued in Marathi, I have conducted cross examinations in Marathi. I have never complained when Judges refused to hear me unless I spoke in the vernacular. I don’t mind people giggling when I falter while reading out statements of witnesses recorded in Marathi.

Recently, the State Consumer Complaint Redressal Forum decided to implement a regulation by which all Consumer Complaints filed in the State of Maharashtra would have to be filed in Marathi. The Opposite Party would have to file its reply in Marathi, the Complainant would have to file rejoinders in Marathi, expert opinions, if any, would have to be filed in Marathi – you get the picture. Orders would also be passed in Marathi, but then again, that was what was being done even prior to this regulation.

All very nice. Aamchi maathi, aamchi mansa, aamchi bhasha, aamcha korut. Very nice.

A look at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission website highlights the laudable achievements of the Consumer Protection Act:

“The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (in short, ‘the Act’), is a benevolent social legislation that lays down the rights of the consumers and provides their for promotion and protection of the rights of the consumers. The first and the only Act of its kind in India, it has enabled ordinary consumers to secure less expensive and often speedy redressal of their grievances. By spelling out the rights and remedies of the consumers in a market so far dominated by organized manufacturers and traders of goods and providers of various types of services, the Act makes the dictum, caveat emptor (‘buyer beware’) a thing of the past.”

Two things: 1. “Less expensive” and 2. “speedy redressal”.

Let’s read those again. 1. “Less expensive” and 2. “speedy redressal”.

I’m going to go, grab a cuppa chai, and come back while you ponder that.

Done?

Spare a thought for my non Marathi speaking brethren. Estimates at translation work vary from Rs. 400 for the first 50 words, Rs. 50 for every 50 words after to Rs. 200 per page. Now we’re talking legal stuff here, so I’m guessing the big words and jargon will come at a premium.  The few translators that exist are slow, and running after them is a hybrid form of Chinese Torture.

We also need to get this proof read, because, you see, a good lawyer will spend hours on drafts, and measure each and every word used. One can’t assume the same amount of competence from a translator.  So you then need to consult someone really proficient and skilled. It’s sad, but they don’t work for free.

Remember: 1. “Less expensive” and 2. “speedy redressal”.

Fine, we always have the option of forum shopping, the next time we get a faulty electronic item we can send notices to the Bangalore Office of the Company and create a cause of action there. There are ways and means of getting around this. But not in all cases.

True, I rarely come to the Consumer Forum. If I do come to the Consumer Forum, it’s because I represent several parties in Medical Negligence Cases. So you go ahead and find someone who can translate this so we can dispose of this case cheaply and quickly.

“The Opposite Party No. 2 thoroughly examined the Complainant and found that the Complainant had weakly palpable pulsations in the left lower limb and therefore she was advised to undergo a Digital Subtraction Angiography (DSA) which was conducted on 21.12.1999. The results displayed a “long sement occlusion of common iliac artery with refilling of femoral artery with poor distal popliteal runoff”. The diagnosis as indicated by the DSA was explained to the Complainant and as the claudication was severe, the Complainant was advised to undergo Aorto Iliac Bypass grafting on 06.01.2000 so as to increase the perfusion pressure of the femoral artery, as her condition was one of an atherosclerotic block in the left iliac artery.”

Jaago grahak, jaago?

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§ One Response to Aamchi Bhasha, Aamcha Korut

  • Smarika says:

    This is awful! The very root of CPA lies in better protection to consumer by erasing lawyers as middlemen. And now to make this access to justice more difficult just because you are ignorant of a particular vernacular is totally outrageous- and it’s not like the effect is felt by any particular professional community either, like lawyers, but by the consumer DIRECTLY! Seems like part of a larger political intrigue one needs to be wary of.

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