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Unfaithful translation of documents violate rights of an accused : Bombay High Court

While translating the detention order of a detenu, only typographical errors may be accepted, any kind of factual or substantial error will be in violation of the rights of the accused under article 22(5) of the Constitution. This remarkable judgement was passed by the division bench of the Bombay High Court, consisting of Justice S.S.Shinde & Justice M.S.Karnik in the matter of Rohit Sidram Khatal (Detenu) v The Commissioner of Police Solapur & Ors., [Criminal Writ Petition No. 1576 OF 2020].

The present petition was filed by an individual who was detained under the Section 3 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug-offenders, Dangerous Persons, Video Pirates, Sand Smugglers and Persons engaged in Black-marketing of essential Commodities Act, 1981 (MPDA Act), challenging the detention order under article 226 of the Constitution. The petitioner alleged that he has not been provided with true information regarding his detention which has hampered his right under article 22(5) of the Constitution.

The petitioner also alleged that representation was dated 6th July, 2020 and the same came to be decided only on 18th August, 2020. There was no explanation given whatsoever much less a satisfactory explanation for the delay in deciding the representation. The counsel relied on the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Harish Pahwa vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, [(1981) 2 SCC 710] and Rashid Kapadia vs. Medha Gadgil and others, [(2012) 11 SCC 745] where Their Lordships considered the question of delay in deciding the representation made by the detenu in the context of violating the valuable right conferred under Article 22 (5) of the Constitution of India.

These decisions squarely apply in the present case.
Firstly, he alleged wrong translation of the original English version to Marathi, which he is fluent with, It is contended that in paragraph 4 of grounds of detention in English version it is stated Faujadar Chawadi Police Station whereas in Marathi ground of detention it is translated as Salgar Wasti Police Station. Further, in the English version of grounds, a total of 9 cases are shown to be registered against the petitioner whereas in Marathi translation only 7 cases are shown. Lastly, learned counsel for the petitioner urged that in the column of ‘status’ in the table of cases furnished in paragraph 4.2 there is a variance in the English and Marathi translation.

The division bench observed that:
In our opinion, the discrepancies pointed out by learned counsel for the petitioner in Marathi translation are not mere typographical errors but in fact are substantial mistakes. A cumulative reading of the discrepancies, additions and omissions lead us to a conclusion that the detenu has not been furnished with true and faithful translation of the original version and thus deprived from making effective representation as such his right to make representation under Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India is violated.

Written By: Prime Legal Law Firm
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