Sunday, November 26, 2006

When I’m murdered, I’ll speak in Tamil

“KOLKATA: The Calcutta HC has held that a dying declaration recorded in a language other than the victim's mother tongue is not acceptable as evidence in a court of law. On Tuesday, a division bench of Justice P N Sinha and Justice P S Dutta of the HC, acquitted a man, who was sentenced to life for alleged murder of his wife. Earlier, a trial court had sentenced Phatik Let — a resident of Kalua village in Birbhum — to life, based on the dying declaration recorded by two doctors in English. The HC not only detected incongruity in the separate 'dying declarations' submitted by the doctors but also noted that the people do not speak in any other language but their mother tongue in their dying moments.”

From a report in The Times of India.

This is how it works. Someone stabs me, and I’m rushed to the nearest hospital by bystanders. In a little while, it is clear that I will not survive. The doctor asks me whether I could make a statement, and I do want to. I want the person who stabbed me to be punished.

So I tell him, “I was walking along the road when John Doe stabbed me with a knife.”

The doctor stops me. He asks me what my mother tongue is. Fighting hard, I try to keep alive for a few minutes more, and tell him, “Tamil.” He tells me I need to make the declaration in Tamil.

As I’m dying, I have to remember a language that I hardly speak?
And providentially at hand should be someone who can both understand AND write Tamil?

And If these two conditions are not met my murderer gets away scotfree?

And the law is not an ass?


Anonymous said...

No, you have to declare your mother tongue to be English. It's a perfectly legit choice.

Anant Rangaswami said...

Not so simple -- we're dealing with the law here. I had checked on the net, and here's the definition from one's native language; "the language learned by children and passed from one generation to the next."
If this is messy, the other ones I saw are even more complex.

Ambuj Saxena said...

It happened with Einstein. His last sentence was in German, and the nurse by his side didn't knew German. She was unable to recollect what was Einstein's last words.

Anant Rangaswami said...



That's the most non trivial trivia I've come across in ages.
And it does make the stupidity of the ruling more stark.