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Not to use mobile phones in virtual hearings was only advisory to lawyers, no bar on usage: SC clarifies

ANI | Updated: Jan 19, 2022 20:42 IST

New Delhi [India], January 19 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday clarified that the notice issued by it on January 17 asking lawyers to use laptops or desktops and avoid mobile phones for virtual court hearings was only an advisory in nature.
Secretary-General of the Supreme Court Virender Kumar Bansal in a letter to the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA), said that asking lawyers to use desktops and laptops was only an advisory in nature and there is no bar on the use of mobile phones.
Bansal said that any lawyer who does not have a laptop or desktop can join court proceedings using mobile phones, ensuring that such advocate is properly visible and audible to the Court.
Secretary General's communication said, "Contrary to the concern expressed by you, a careful reading of the notice dated January 17, 2022 reveals that it is merely advisory in nature and nowhere in the said advisory it is stated that the usage of mobile phones is barred."
On January 17, the top court asked lawyers to avoid mobile phones for court hearings through video conferencing to avoid any disruption in the court proceedings and inconvenience to the Judges.
The top court notified 'best practices for virtual court proceedings' and asked all advocates to avoid joining hearings through their mobile phones.
"All advocates and party in persons have been requested to join the Cisco Webex application for joining the court hearings through desktops or laptops with a stable internet connectivity, preferably wired, to avoid any disruption in the court proceedings and inconvenience to the Judges," the circular of January 17 issued by the apex court stated.

The circular has said the advocates and party-in-person must join the video conferencing hearing preferably using a headset-enabled microphone and audio system. It has also asked them to join hearing through a single device and have also been asked to close all background applications running on their devices for the best VC experience.
During that day, the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana expressed displeasure over lawyers attending virtual hearings through their mobile phones as the devices make it difficult for judges to hear or see advocates during the hearings.
CJI Ramana asked advocates to use laptops or desktops while appearing in matters through video conferencing before the court and avoid using mobile phones.
The CJI Bench has said it has been facing difficulty in hearing or seeing the advocates when they appear through mobile phones.
In view of the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the apex court on January 2 decided to shift to the virtual system of hearings from January 3 for two weeks.
Suspending the physical and hybrid option of the hearing, the apex court decided to shift to complete virtual hearing for two weeks.
By another circular, the top court judges decided to work from their residential offices. (ANI)