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'Maintain Minimum Decorum': Orissa HC Condemns Lawyers' Practice Of Arguing Cases Through VC From Inside Vehicles, Gardens & While Eating Etc. [Read Order]

3 Sep 2020 8:11 AM GMT
Maintain Minimum Decorum: Orissa HC Condemns Lawyers Practice Of Arguing Cases Through VC From Inside Vehicles, Gardens & While Eating Etc. [Read Order]
"In recent past this Court has some horrible experience while conducting Court through Video Conferencing."
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The Orissa High Court has asked the Bar Council and Bar Association to give necessary instruction to lawyers so that the do not breach the decorum as well as decency in Court proceedings conducted through video conference.

Justice Biswanath Rath observed thus after he noted that a lawyer presented his case, when it was taken up through video conference, from inside his vehicle which was on road. When asked about this, the lawyer explained that since he is to attend a case at Puri, he is rushing to Puri and is unable to argue his case from his residence at Cuttack.

Seriously condemning the conducting of a case inside a vehicle on road, the judge observed thus in the order:

In the Covid-19 situation extending arguing place beyond the Court premises does not mean permitting one to argue matter inside a vehicle, from his lawn and from his drawing room allowing his wife to join him in the process of proceeding. Counsel should argue at the minimum from his/her home or temporary residence and there should be maintenance of minimum decorum.

The judge also narrated in the order about some similar instances which happened recently. It said:

In recent past this Court has some horrible experience while conducting Court through Video Conferencing. First one is when a counsel after finishing his case brought his wife inside the Video Conferencing site and even after frequent request since position did not improve, Court form its own side had to disconnect the petitioner's connection. Second instance is, a counsel argued his matter from garden. On query learned counsel said he could not get proper contact from inside his house, which proved to be wrong when learned counsel shifted the system to inside his house and inside his house, he was requested not to repeat in future. This Court has also observed some counsel while appearing through Video Conferencing went on eating and despite repeated requests, he did not drop himself.

The court then heard matter on merits and dismissed the application.

In June, the Supreme Court had accepted the apology of an advocate who had made an appearance before the Court, whilst lying on bed dressed in a T-shirt, and emphasised on the need to maintain minimum court etiquette during court video hearings. "This Court is of the view that when Counsel appear in court video hearings, they should be presentable and avoid showing images, which are not appropriate and can only be tolerable in the privacy of their homes. We are all passing through trying time and hearings by virtual courts have become the order of the day. Yet minimum court etiquette in terms of what can be considered decent dress, background etc. should be followed, given the public nature of the hearing.", Justice S. Ravindra Bhat had observed.

A writ petition was filed before the Supreme Court seeking to recall the 'Senior' designation of Advocate Rajeev Dhawan, allegedly for smoking during the Virtual Court proceedings.

Recently Justice Rajashekhar Mantha of Calcutta High Court had initiated suo motu contempt action against an advocate-on-record for posting on 'LinkedIn' a screenshot of the virtual court hearing of the day when a favourable interim order was passed by the Single Judge while calling for affidavits. It was observed that taking a screenshot of the virtual court proceedings is akin to clicking a photograph of an actual court proceeding. However, the contempt proceedings were later dropped with a warning to the lawyer not to repeat such conduct in future.

Rajasthan High Court once adjourned a Bail plea on account of inappropriately dressed counsel in a "baniyan" (undervest) during the Video conference hearing. "Learned counsel for the petitioner was contacted through video conferencing he was found to be wearing Baniyan. This court has already observed that during this pandemic where court functioning is being done through video conferencing lawyers must appear in proper uniform" Justice Sanjeev Prakash Sharma noted.

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