Officials in India’s Supreme Court registry said on Wednesday that the court would make its judgments available in regional languages on its official website by the end of July. Initially, court decisions will be translated into Assamese, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Odia, and Telugu.
The move aims to satisfy a long-standing demand of non-English speakers in the country who find themselves unable to read the apex court’s judgments because English is the language of the court. “The need to have judgments in vernacular languages arose as litigants have been approaching the Supreme Court office asking for a copy of the final verdict in a language they can speak and read. Every litigant may not be an English-speaking individual,” an officer from the court’s registry said.
While India has one of the world’s largest English-speaking populations, knowledge of the language is generally limited to the educated elite and upper middle classes in cities. Most of India’s population lives outside of its cities, and many are only conversant in regional languages. India’s constitution recognizes 22 official languages in its eighth schedule.
Several states in the country have their own official languages, which in many cases may not be spoken anywhere else in India. According to the 2011 census, there are at least 121 languages spoken in the South Asian nation.