Monday, November 10, 2008


While it is argued that implementing Kannada in Courts is quite difficult, here is a Judge in Shimoga who has given more than 1500 judgements, all in Kannada. Justice H.S.Mittalkod of the Fast Track Court here in Shimoga has been consistently giving all his judgements in Kannada since 1985 and this figure has now crossed 1500 mark. Not only the judgements, even the entries made by him in the court-diaries are also in Kannada. As per his instructions all entries made in the court-diaries are in Kannada. Mittalkod started using Kannada language not after he became a Judge, but even when he was practicing law in Dharwad during 1977. Everything was being done in Kannada - filing petitions, conducting cross-examinations and enquiring witnesses. His intention was to popularize the usage of Kannada language in the courts. In 1985, when he assumed office as a Munsiff in Chikkanayakanahalli, there were no proper arrangements for issuing judgements in Kannada. During those days, he issued judgements in Kannada by writing them in his own hand. He continued to give judgements in Kannada at places where he worked, in Athani, Soraba, Davanagere, Bantwal and Sagar and even later when he was promoted as a District Magistrate at Bangalore, Koppal, Karwar and Shimoga.

Not an easy task

It is no easy task to implement Kannada especially in a country that has been ruled by the British for hundreds of years. The right Kannada word whose meaning is equivalent to English has to be identified, which also must be appropriate for the occasion. If there is any error in the usage, the whole meaning gets changed. Mittalkod has been quite successful in his attempts to overcome all these limitations. The judges are greatly benefited if the short-hand writers and the typists they get while giving judgements, are well-versed in Kannada. When Mittalkod was appointed as Judge in Karwar, he faced the same difficulty, but in all other places there was not much of a problem as he was able to get staff who could readily adjust to his issuing of judgements in Kannada. His long-cherished dream of issuing civil judgements in Kannada was also fulfilled when he was appointed in Shimoga. So far he has written six appeals in Kannada. With this, he has given judgements involving criminal, motor vehicle cases, murder cases and several other cases, all in Kannada.

Mittalkod is not only a judge, but also a writer. The two poetry collections written by him Akarsha and Utkarsha have been published. He has also written two books on law, one dealing with dishonouring of bank cheques and other, a manual on laws. Before becoming a judge, he had written articles in several papers.

Kannada usage

Except while cross-examining the witnesses, the usage of Kannada in judiciary is very less, which is about 25%. Keeping this in mind, the High Court has issued a circular to popularise the usage of Kannada in courts. There are about 700 judges in the State. Among them the number of judges honestly trying to implement Kannada is about 50. Last year when the State Government honoured Mittalkod for writing judgements in Kannada, several began seriously thinking of doing the same.

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