Taking stern view of the “irresponsible conduct” of an Advocate who was smoking during the course of Court proceedings via video conferencing, the Gujarat High Court imposed a cost of Rs. 10,000 upon him.
The Bench of Justice AS Supehia observed that the advocates appearing through video conference are required to maintain “minimum dignified decorum” so that the majesty and dignity of the proceedings as well as the Institution are maintained.
In the present case however, Advocate for the original complainant, Mr. JV Ajmera was smoking while sitting in the car.
Deprecating such conduct of the advocate the Court said,
“It was not expected from an advocate to be smoking in the car during the Court proceedings. Such behaviour of the advocate is required to be strictly condemned.
The Court thus directed him to deposit a sum of Rs. 10,000 with the HC Registry, within a week.
Further, the Court has directed the Registrar (Judicial) to initiate appropriate proceedings and submit a report within a period of ten days and forward the same to the Bar Council of Gujarat.
It is directed that the Bar Council as well as the Bar Association of High Court shall inform the advocates to maintain a dignified decorum while conducting the matters through video conferencing.
“They shall be informed / instructed that the proceedings conducted through video conferencing shall be either from their respective residences or any office space, barring any vehicle or any open ground.
While attending the proceedings from their respective residences / offices, they shall also maintain appropriate sitting posture while addressing the Court,” the Court said.
Recently, Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhawan was in news for smoking during the Virtual Court proceedings before the Supreme Court, during hearing on the disqualification petition of 6 BSP MLAs of Rajasthan Assembly.
A plea to recall his Senior designation for such “misconduct” was filed in the Supreme Court.
Inter alia, there have been incidents where Advocates appear for a virtual court in inappropriate dresses.
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.
Rajasthan High Court once adjourned a Bail plea on account of inappropriately dressed counsel in a “baniyan” (undervest) during the Video conference hearing.
Recently, the Orissa High Court condemned the practice of lawyers arguing cases through VC from inside vehicles, gardens & while eating etc.
Furthermore, 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.