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Around 5 pm when the courts have wrapped up for the day,lawyer Ratneshwar Pandey sits at the stall of a typist in the Tis Hazari court complex,referring to his iPad and dictating a petition to a typewriter. He owns a laptop,a smartphone and an iPad but no technology,he believes,can replace the easy familiarity of the dictation routine between a lawyer and his typist. Hari,his typist for the past 14 years,grins at Pandeys comment. Pandey is his only regular client. The others,Hari says,have taken their business to computers.
With the post office discontinuing its telegram service on July 15,many typists working on court premises believe that typewriters would soon become obsolete and that their days on the job are numbered unless they shift to computers. Most prefer computers. They think that the print is better. There is less labour. And you get the result in no time if the format is ready, Lalit Kumar,a typist at Saket court,says. Lalit has been working on typewriters since 1987 but is planning to shift to laptops by the end of the year. The problem is that after all these years,my hands just cannot adjust to a computer.
All the courts in the city have shifted from typewriters to computers and a digital database in the past five years. Further,the company selling the ubiquitous Remington typewriters has stopped manufacturing them.
Lalit says centres servicing typewriters or selling spare parts have reduced and prices of parts have shot up. However,a dwindling population of typists in courts still uses typewriters. In Saket Court,of the 30 typists,only three use typewriters. However,in Tis Hazari and Karkarduma courts,half the typists work on typewriters but are planning to shift to computers soon.
For 64-year-old Ram Swarup Gupta,a typist in Karkarduma court using a portable Remington,computers are not an option. I am too old to think of computers, he says. I bought my second-hand typewriter for Rs 160 and it has served me for a year. Where can you get a computer that cheap?
Abbasi Khan,a typist at Saket court,insists that typewriters have unique benefits. When there is no electricity or forms need to be filled or any error on a printed document needs to be corrected,you can only use typewriters, he says. Sunil Roy,a typist since 1960 at Patiala House and Saket courts,mentions that while forging papers mostly wills or backdated documents many use typewriters to lend authenticity to the document. But while I earn Rs 200 to Rs 300 per day,typists using computers earn close to Rs 1,000, he says,adding that the profit margin in his business is diminishing.
Abbasi,however,mentions that computers have ruined the spelling and grammatical sense of the typists. With automatic spell-grammar correct options and readymade templates, he says,typists are no longer particular about what they type. He also points out that typing on a typewriter is a must to improve speed. To be eligible for the post of a typist,you need to be adept at a typewriter first… so,all the training centres use typewriters. Also,district courts in Rajasthan,Haryana and other states still run on typewriters. With all this and an unreliable electricity situation,it will take time before typewriters are relegated to museums, he says.