New Delhi: The Supreme Court has termed as wrong the practice of the judges of the lower courts of recording the testimony in English translation instead of the original language. The apex court said, the language in which the witness makes the statement. A record should be kept of that also. It is wrong to include only the English translation in the record. This cannot be allowed.
Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Bela M Trivedi advised all courts to ensure compliance of the provisions of Section 277 of the CrPC while recording evidence. The bench made this observation while disposing of a criminal appeal. The bench observed that in some lower courts, statements of witnesses are not being recorded in their own language. They are being taken on record only in the English language as translated by the Presiding Officer. In the matter before the bench, the witness had given statement in his mother tongue, but there was English translation on record.
Translation to be done later for record: The bench said, the evidence of the witness should be recorded in the language of the court or as far as possible in the language of the witness. Only then should it be translated into the language of the court to become part of the record. The bench said, the testimony can be best appreciated only when it is recorded in the language of the witness. Not only this, whenever the question arises as to what the witness has said, only his actual testimony matters, the English translation may not work.
These are the rules under section 277-If the witness testifies in the language of the court, it has to be recorded in that language.
If he makes a statement in any other language, it should, if possible, be recorded in that language and if it is not possible to do so, a correct translation of the testimony may be prepared in court. It is only when the witness gives evidence in English that it is recorded as such. Also, if translation in the language of the court is not required on behalf of any party, then the court may waive such translation. If a witness testifies in a language other than the language of the court, a correct translation into the language of the court should be prepared as soon as possible.