The Orissa High Court has issued an order directing lawyers to maintain courtroom decorum during virtual hearings, citing its "horrible" experiences.
The court in its order mentioned the most recent instance of a counsel participating in a hearing from a moving vehicle, a report in Bar and Bench said on Saturday. Justice Biswanath Rath said that when the advocate in question was hauled up, he explained he had to argue a case in Puri and could not appear for the current one from his home in Cuttack.
The court harked back on earlier instances when lawyers had breached courtroom decorum while appearing virtually from their homes. In one case, a lawyer brought his wife on video-conference during a hearing and failed to heed the court's repeated requests to remove her from the call.
In another instance, a lawyer argued a case from his garden, citing network issues before the court. However, it was proved that was not the case when the advocate moved back inside his house and continued to attend the hearing.
Another advocate continued to eat on a video conference despite requests to stop doing so, the order said.
The Supreme Court and others, including the Bombay High Court, had exempted lawyers from appearing for cases in black coats and gowns with physical hearings prohibited amid the coronavirus lockdown. However, some advocates may have taken this for granted.
A lawyer earlier had to issue an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court for attending a hearing while lying in bed in a T-shirt. Similarly, the Rajasthan High Court had asked the Bar Association to urge advocates to appear in uniform for virtual hearings after a lawyer wore a baniyan (vest) during a video conference.
In June, a lawyer appeared for a virtual hearing before the Thoothukudi District Court while standing on the side of a road and was also fined for using expletives, The News Minute had reported. The court said he was penalised for insulting the Principal District Judge although the lawyer maintained his curse words were directed towards a rash driver who had happened to pass by.
Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan was also seen smoking a hookah at a virtual hearing, while another lawyer was reprimanded by the Supreme Court for chewing 'gutkha' (tobacco) on camera.