Advocate Sara Sunny made history as the first deaf lawyer to argue a case in India's Supreme Court with the assistance of Indian Sign Language (ISL) interpreter Saurav Roychowdhury.
During the virtual proceedings, the courtroom moderator hesitated to allow the interpreter to keep his video on for the entire duration. Nevertheless, Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud granted permission for both Sunny and Roychowdhury to be visible on the screen.
The initiative to bring Sara Sunny to the virtual courtroom was spearheaded by Advocate on Record Sanchita Ain. Attendees of the proceedings, including Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, were impressed by the interpreter's speed, with Mehta remarking, "The speed at which the interpreter is interpreting in sign language is amazing."
CJI Chandrachud has been a proponent of equal access to justice, advocating for an accessibility audit of the Supreme Court last year to better understand the challenges faced by differently-abled individuals. He has actively worked towards making the court system more inclusive for lawyers with disabilities.
The Supreme Court further embraced inclusivity by using sign language interpreters during its two-day national stakeholder consultation on child protection. Invitations for the event were issued in Braille to aid visually impaired attendees.
Sanchita Ain emphasized the importance of creating infrastructure for deaf individuals in India. After her appearance in the Supreme Court, Sara Sunny expressed her excitement, stating, "It was a dream come true experience for me. I had a great desire to appear for a case in the highest court of the judiciary of our country, which I never expected so soon and that, too, accomplished in the presence of the Honourable Chief Justice of India." Her aspiration is to inspire individuals with special abilities, fostering their entrance into the legal profession.
Sunny also expressed her interest in better understanding constitutional law, disability law, and human rights law to better serve people with special abilities. She acknowledged the need for multiple interpreters during court proceedings due to the limitations of sign language interpretation. Sara Sunny's historic appearance underscores the ongoing journey toward true inclusivity and accessibility within the Indian legal system.
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