Brahmananda Sharma was only 22 when glaucoma snatched his eyesight. And while the young man may have lost his physical ability to see, it failed to rob him of his vision. One of his life goals was to become a judge.
Defying all odds, at 31, Brahmananda became the first visually-impaired judge in Rajasthan.
A civil judge and judicial magistrate of Sarwar town of Ajmer district, Brahmananda grew up in Bhilwara and studied in a government school. He cleared the 2013 Rajasthan Judicial Services Examination in the first attempt, securing the 83rd rank, reported The Times of India.
A usual day in the life of this judge includes referring to the court proceedings several times. He may be unable to read the notes as his counterparts do, but he listens to the recorded proceedings diligently.
And while Brahmananda’s story is an example of grit and determination, it also sheds light on the inaccessibility of the legal profession for visually-impaired aspirants.
In an interview with TOI, he recalls his struggles while appearing for the Judicial Services Examination. He says, “I even approached a coaching centre, but they refused to help me. It is my family who helped me. My wife, who is a teacher at a government school, read out the books and we maintained recordings of the readings, which I listened to frequently.”
After he cleared his exam and was awaiting his posting, the Rajasthan High Court suggested he be trained for a year, post the successful completion of which, he joined the legal services in 2016.
While the civil judge’s first posting was in Chittorgarh, he was recently transferred to the town of Sarwar.
For all the naysayers who fail to look at the civil judge as they enter the courtroom beyond his white cane, he has a befitting answer. “Many times, I sense that advocates and their clients are sceptical and even wonder if a visually impaired man can ensure justice. They seem to forget that even Lady Justice is blindfolded. I impart justice weighing the facts and merits of a case, just the way it should be done,” he said.
The judge also has a unique way of drawing cues from the way his petitioners read the plaint. Brahmananda uses an e-speak device connected to a computer, which records and converts the notes made by the reader, into speech.
He can recognise the hundreds of different advocates who enter the courtroom merely by their footsteps, he shares. “When an advocate approaches my court with a petition, I ask him to read the plaint as well as the attached documents. His voice is enough for me to judge his authenticity,” he told TOI.
Once he has a complete set of recordings, including the arguments made by advocates as well as the statements made by witnesses and clients, he listens to each of them several times, to make sure he hasn’t missed any crucial information.
Though he overcomes new struggles every day like managing his staff, he does it by evaluating what his reader or clerk is speaking.
He sheds light on how technology could help bridge the gap that exists in the judicial system of the country. He says, “The use of technology should be increased in the judicial system so that people who are illiterate can also understand what is being done by the court. It will also bring transparency as the illiterate witnesses can later hear their statements given to the court.”
“I am happy that I have not only maintained my self-esteem but also proven that nothing can stop a person from fulfilling their dream. I have no remorse for my disability,” he signs off.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
Feature Image Credit : Times of India