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"... about 67 persons have joined the video conference, by sharing the screen, due to which there was congestion and severe disturbance has been caused to the hearing by them", the Court observed.
The intrusion of outsiders during a video conference hearing recently led the Andhra Pradesh High Court to decide that the rest of the hearing in the case before it would be conducted in open court, following social distancing norms amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The case in question concerns a challenge to a recent State Ordinance that cut short the tenure of State Election Commissioner, Nimmagdda Ramesh Kumar
When the matter was taken up on Wednesday by a Bench of Chief Justice JK Maheshwari and Justice M Satyanarayana Murthy, it was noticed that number of unrelated persons had joined in on the video conference hearing, thereby causing disruptions amid arguments.
This was despite the fact that the video conference ID and password was provided only to the advocates connected with the present batch of cases. Although the unconnected persons were dropped from the hearings repeatedly, the Bench noted that the situation kept continuing.
Expressing its ire over the unexpected disturbances, the Bench has recorded in its order that advocates should make sure that such an unwarranted situation did not occur again. In this regard, the order states,
As for the instant case, Senior Advocates, A Satya Prasad, Vedula Venkata Ramana and S Satyanarayana Prasad suggested that the matter may be heard at the earliest in open court, following social distancing norms, given the importance and urgency involved in the case.
Accepting the suggestion, the Bench also clarified that arrangements would be made so that counsel related to the case, who are stationed at Vijayawada or at Hyderabad, would be permitted to travel to the Court for the hearing.
The Bench proceeded to detail a list of counsel who would be permitted to appear for the open Court hearing scheduled for May 4.
The Bench added that no other advocate or party is allowed to enter into the Court to attend the hearing, unless permitted by the Registrar General.
"It is made clear that on 04.05.2020, only the abovementioned advocates along with the respective senior counsel and the Advocate General are permitted to appear for personal hearing and except them, no other advocate or party is permitted to enter into the Court to attend the hearing of cases. If personal appearance of any other party or advocate in these cases is necessary, it may be permitted only by the Registrar General."
Read the order here: