SC Asks Lawyers, Litigants to Use Computers Instead of Mobiles to Join Virtual Hearings

Hours after Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana expressed unhappiness over disruptions during virtual hearings due to the use of mobiles, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the advocates and litigants to use a desktop or the laptop with a stable internet connection to join proceedings conducted through video conferencing. All advocates and party-in person are requested to join the CISCO Webex application for joining the court hearing through video conferencing (VC) via a desktop/laptop with a stable internet connectivity, preferably wired, to avoid any disruption and inconvenience to the Hon’ble Judges, the notification issued by the apex court registry said.

The notification advised the lawyers and litigants to join the virtual proceedings through a single device either a laptop or a desktop. All advocates, party-in-person must also join the VC hearings preferably using a headset enabled microphone and audio system…Please also close all background applications running on your devices for best VC experience, the notification reads.

The notification assumes significance since earlier in the day, the hearing in as many as 10 cases was to be adjourned by the bench headed by the CJI as the lawyers were either inaudible or invisible or both. The bench was irked over frequent disruptions as the lawyers or litigants were mostly joining the proceedings through phones using mobile data and even observed that it may have to ban participation through mobiles.

“Lawyers are appearing using their mobile phones and are not visible. We may have to ban this mobile business. Mr counsel, you are now practicing in the Supreme Court and appear regularly. Can’t you afford to have a desktop to argue, the CJI observed in one of the cases. During the hearing of another case, the bench took note of poor internet connectivity at the lawyer’s end and said, 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.” The top court has been hearing cases through 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.

The apex court, on January 2, took note of a sudden spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country and decided to hear all matters in virtual mode, and from January 7, the benches are sitting at the residential offices of the judges.

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