Hearing of cases in courts in Virtual mode is a blessing, particularly for the senior advocates, because they can manage their cases from the cosy comforts of their houses or offices. However, sometimes, they also get a snub from the courts for not adhering to the dress code or for not following the basic protocols of the courts. Some of the advocates have even been seen sipping tea while arguing their cases, which is unthinkable in the physical mode. This happened today with Senior Counsel KTS Tulsi, who, by the way, is also a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) got a snub by the bench of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Aniruddha Bose. As far as the dress code is concerned, it is an altogether different issue and Shri Tulsi being a lawmaker and interpreter of the law can definitely take a stand to get it changed.
When Shri Tulsi appeared today in Virtual Court number 9 of the SC without wearing a neckband and a black coat, Justice Saran asked him: Are you appearing as an Advocate? If you are appearing as an Advocate, why are you not in the proper dress? Profusely apologising to the Court, Shri Tulsi, sought a minute’s time from the court to wear the coat and band. In the meantime, the court took up the next matter, which did not take more than two minutes. By that time Shri Tulsi was ready in the proper dress to argue the case.
Hearings in virtual modes have received mixed reactions from the Bench and the Bar as well. It is, without doubt, a time-saving, money-saving, and pollution protecting mode. On average, an advocate has to waste nearly two hours of time commuting from home to the court and back from the court to the home, if the court works in physical mode. The money spent on conveyance and petrol fuel is also saved in virtual modes and in the process, the congestion on the roads and atmospheric pollution is reduced.
It has many demerits also. For example, it does not give the feel of the courts. One can only see either the Bench or one or two more advocates because the audio and video of advocates are kept disabled by the host. One cannot have the benefit of hearing the arguments of other advocates in the absence of enabling links. Our Bars are bereft of innovative ideas, so nothing better be expected from them.
This can certainly be adequately addressed if the live streaming of all courts is started. Live streaming will be immensely helpful in making the judges and lawyers more responsible. At present, it is found that in most of the courts, judges sit and leave the courtrooms as their whims and fancies. The Supreme Court is, of course, an exception, where the judges are mostly very punctual. The virtual mode has deprived the opportunity of socialisation among advocates and clients. Thrills of gossips in the canteens and the search for relevant materials in the libraries are felt like pangs.
The other difficulty relates to technology because, in many places, the internet is found to be very erratic. If teething troubles are got over, the technology can give optimum benefits. The proper use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will not only reduce the burden of the courts but will also go a long way in filtering the frivolous cases, which consume a lot of judicial time of the courts.


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