The Supreme Court on Monday expressed shock over a lawyer appearing shirtless during a virtual hearing related to Sudarshan TV’s communal show titled Bindas Bol, reported Live Law. Justice Indu Malhotra said that the lawyer’s conduct was “unpardonable”, according to Hindustan Times.
The lawyer was representing Hindutva website OpIndia. Justice DY Chandrachud, who was presiding over the bench, repeatedly asked who he was. The lawyer suddenly logged out of the hearing, presumably after realising his mistake.
After the hearing ended, the judges spoke to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. Chandrachud told Mehta that lawyers must observe decorum even during virtual hearings. He added that such incidents were an insult to the court and directed Mehta to ensure that they are not repeated in the future. Malhotra, on the other hand, referred to the incident as “very bad”.
Courts in India have been holding virtual hearings because of the coronavirus crisis. There have been several instances of advocates violating decorum at these hearings.
In September, the Gujarat High Court had imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on an advocate for smoking during an online hearing, according to PTI. A month before that, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan was also seen smoking hookah during a hearing.
In April, the Rajasthan High Court had to adjourn a bail hearing after the petitioner’s lawyer came to the online hearing in a vest, according to Bar and Bench.
The incident set off jokes on Twitter. “I mean, thodi toh maryada rakhiye [at least behave with dignity],” journalist Meghnad wrote. “Oh 2020, you wonderful fountain of endlessly bizarre and unintentionally hilarious content.”
“Not lawyer’s fault, he tried to accurately represent Opindia,” journalist Aditya Menon said in response.