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The Rajasthan High Court was recently constrained to defer hearing in a batch of bail applications moved before the Court, recording that it was not feasible to hear multiple counsel simultaneously, even by video conferencing.
The order passed by Justice Dinesh Mehta last week states,
Consequently, the judge opted to direct that these matters be listed two weeks later.
Read the order:
In the wake of the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the highlight contagious COVID-19 disease, Courts across the country have been using video conferencing as a measure to continue remotely hearing urgent cases.
Recently, a Madras High Court judge also noted that employing video call technology may aid in disposing of cases expeditiously and in ascertaining the accurate facts of a case.
However, these hearings have not been always smooth. The failure of participants to maintain proper etiquette and decorum, for instance, has been a common issue that has cropped up across Courts.
The Rajasthan High Court itself was prompted to urge all advocates to appear in their uniform during hearings conducted through video conferencing, after an advocate reportedly appeared in his baniyan (vest) to argue a bail matter through video conferencing.
The pilot open source video conference hearing held by Justice GS Patel of the Bombay High Court last week also witnessed some audio disruptions from those listening in. In response, a circular was also issued cautioning those joining in on the conference hearing that "Though virtual, this is nonetheless a court hearing, and therefore appropriate court conduct is required."
Similar etiquette guidelines were also recently issued by the Kerala High Court. So far, two Special Benches of the High Court had been sitting during the lockdown, with one Bench dedicated to hearing bail cases alone.