By Sunil Garodia
In a disturbing development that happened for the first time, some officials of the Supreme Court tampered with an order posted on the website of the apex court. CJI Ranjan Gogoi, in his trademark no-nonsense attitude, immediately took stern action to dismiss two officers who maintained the content and were culpable. He has also held a meeting with all the registrars and their deputies to explore whether this incident was limited to the two sacked officers or others could have been involved. An inquiry has been ordered.
The incident related to an order for the personal appearance of embattled industrialist Anil Ambani in contempt of court case against him for repayment of sums of money to mobile equipment company Ericsson. The apex court had ordered for his personal appearance in the case. But the order was tampered with two days after it was first loaded on the website and the word “not” was added to make it appear as if the judges had exempted Ambani from personal appearance. This fact was discovered by Ericsson whose lawyers immediately brought it to the notice of the court, leading to the dismissals and inquiry. Ambani personally appeared in the court on the date of the hearing and the judgment is reserved.
This is a very serious matter that needs thorough investigation. Court orders are important documents and those entrusted with the duty of posting them on the website cannot be allowed to play with them. Since litigants and their lawyers access the orders online, even if a single word is altered it will change the meaning of the order and maybe make the subsequent line of prosecution or defense meaningless. Further, people will start losing faith in orders posted online. Hence, the CJI must be commended for taking prompt action to nip the mischief in the bud. Those who carried out the actual tampering and those who obviously greased palms to get it done must be handed out exemplary punishment.