New Delhi, January 17
Piqued over frequent disruptions during virtual hearings, the Supreme Court advised lawyers against the use of mobile phones on Monday for virtual hearings and said it may have to ban it.
“Lawyers are appearing using their mobile phones and are not visible. We may have to ban this mobile business. Mr counsel, you are now practising in the Supreme Court and you appear regularly. Can’t you afford to have a desktop to argue,” a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said.
The CJI’s comments came after his Bench was forced to adjourn hearings in around 10 cases due to repeated audio-visual disruptions from advocates’ end during the proceedings in the pre-lunch session.
“We have no energy to hear cases like this. Please devise a system by which we can hear you. Ten matters are over like this and we are shouting,” said a visibly upset CJI.
Later, a circular issued by the top court’s Registry requested all advocates and party-in-person to join “the court hearings through video conference via a desktop/laptop with a stable internet connection, preferably wired, to avoid any disruption in the court proceedings and inconvenience to the Hon’ble Judges.”
It also advised them to avoid joining the video conference hearings through mobile phones and close all background applications running on their devices for best video conference experience.
The top court has been functioning in virtual mode via video-conferencing since March 2020 due to the pandemic and has been relaxing or tightening the conditions from time to time keeping in mind the changing pandemic situation.
In view of a sudden spike in the number of Covid-19 cases across India, on January 2 it decided to hear all matters in virtual mode and from January 7 with judges joining the hearings from their residential offices.
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