In a first, deaf advocate Saudamini Pethe enrols with Bar Council of Delhi

The 45-year-old woman lawyer would be arguing her matters in courts through the medium of an Indian Sign Language (ISL) interpreter and seeks to be an inspiration for the deaf youth.
Saudamini Pethe -- the first deaf advocate enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi.
Saudamini Pethe -- the first deaf advocate enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi.

NEW DELHI: Saudamini Pethe -- the first deaf advocate enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi -- wants to work for the rights of the hearing impaired and help them gain access to education, healthcare and justice.

The 45-year-old woman lawyer would be arguing her matters in courts through the medium of an Indian Sign Language (ISL) interpreter and seeks to be an inspiration for the deaf youth to join the legal profession and contribute to the cause of their community.

Pethe, who suffered hearing loss after being infected with meningitis at the age of nine and subsequently taking strong medicines, feels that words like 'disability' and 'impairment' have negative connotations.

"My aim is to use my law degree to advocate for the cause of deaf rights. To make it possible for the deaf community in India to gain access in every aspect of life, be it education, health care, or career and most importantly get access to justice," she said.

"I also want to spread more awareness, and empower the deaf by equipping them with the knowledge of their legal rights and become capable of ensuring that these rights are fulfilled. I want to inspire more deaf youth to join the legal profession and contribute to the cause of the deaf," Pethe, who communicated with PTI through WhatsApp messages, said.

Senior advocate K K Manan, chairman of the Bar Council of Delhi, said "We have given the licence to her to practice, which is rarely given in such a situation. But we would like to settle her so that she can stand on her own feet. So that she can do things on her own. She can earn a livelihood for herself and her family. We have taken all these things into consideration and that is why we did it".

Born in Mumbai's Dombivli, Pethe said she has faced many communication barriers and majority of these challenges arose due to lack of accessibility in schools, colleges, public transport or even hiring a cab.

Explaining the challenges she faced to get enrolled as a lawyer, Pethe said from collecting provisional certificate to enrolling at the Bar no communication access was available.

"I had to borrow my son's precious pre-exam time and take him to interpret for my formalities and filings at the university, at the court to prepare affidavits, and arranging meetings with authorities concerned. I was surprised to find that there was neither any category for the disabled in the bar council form nor any relevant quota. I seriously feel this needs to be addressed on a national level," she said.

Pethe, who did her masters in English from Mumbai University in 2000, said she learnt the ISL after 2008 while working as a documentation executive at the Noida Deaf Society.

Prior to learning ISL, she used to communicate by reading lips or sometimes by writing.

Presently, she is the director at All India Foundation of Deaf Women and a trustee at the Access Mantra Foundation.

She pursued LLB at the Institute of Law and Research, Faridabad and completed her course in August this year, after which she got enrolled with the Bar in November.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com