The Central government and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) believe a judge using a laptop—instead of paper and a pencil—might not be able to deliver justice. At least, this is what they say in an affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court.
The affidavit seeks the transfer of the case relating to AIIMS Director P Venugopal's dismissal, which is pending before Justice Anil Kumar of the High Court, to another judge.
One of the reasons cited by the Centre and AIIMS is that "the judge records the submissions and citations on his laptop instead of following the conventional system of using a paper and pencil".
This method, according to their lawyer PN Lekhi, is "prone to error and may result in failure of justice".
"The conventional system of recording of submissions made by counsels on long sheets of paper in pencil and recording the submissions made during regular hearing with pen in a register are the only methods for the proper dispensation of justice," said the affidavit moved by Health Secretary PK Hota on Wednesday.
Hota is also a member of Institute Body of AIIMS.
Sugriva Dubey, one of the lawyers defending Venugopal, said the remarks were "unfortunate and discouraging especially at a time when technology is moving forward". "The central government itself says it is taking steps to modernise the judiciary. To suggest that laptops are prone to error is meaningless. On the other hand, the use of laptops cuts delay in the disposal of a case," he told HT.
The Centre and AIIMS approached the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kailash Gambir for the transfer of the case after getting two adverse orders from Justice Kumar. On July 7, the court stayed the dismissal of Venugopal, locked in a turf battle with Health Minister A Ramadoss, terming it as "illegal".
On October 18, it thwarted another attempt by the Centre to oust Venugopal when it restrained the Institute Body meeting from taking any adverse decision against him.
The affidavit also accused the judge of "pre-judging the issue in favour of Venugopal" and said they were not "allowed to make submissions" on the material against the AIIMS director.
Venugopal's lawyer senior counsel Arun Jaitley pointed out to the court the "highly objectionable" points in the affidavit. He urged the court to initiate contempt proceedings against those behind the affidavit for "indulging in a personal attack on a judge".
The bench of justices Jain and Gambir told the counsels for the Centre and AIIMS that "personal attack against a judge cannot be tolerated". The Centre and AIIMS will now have to file a fresh affidavit, with better reasons.
Email harish.nair@ hindustantimes.com