An injudicious act by a law student may snowball into a massive predicament for many in the days to come. The Bombay High Court on Friday placed for reference before its administrative committee the question whether any person other than an advocate should be allowed to bring mobile phones into the court.
The move comes in light of an incident where a budding solicitor was caught recording his lawyer brother arguing an important case.
The student, Rahul Singh, was caught red-handed, and a show-cause notice has been issued to him asking why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him.
Jusitce Shahrukh Kathawalla observed, “Audio recording of court proceedings by any individual amounts to interference with judicial proceedings and administration of justice.”
On Thursday, Kathawalla was hearing a property dispute case being argued by advocate Rajesh Singh, appearing on behalf of the defendant. Representing the plaintiff was senior advocate Venkatesh Dhond. Singh had brought along his brother Rahul — a student at a reputed North Mumbai law college — to watch the proceedings.
A source said, “Rahul discreetly began recording the activities. He did so for about 18 minutes until the court associate noticed this and confiscated the phone.”
The mobile was handed over to the Deputy Registrar (IT) of the High Court, to submit his report as to whether any court proceedings were stored.
As per the court’s directions, the recording was heard by two officials present in the HC’s video conferencing room at 4.45 pm on Thursday. The report of the Deputy Registrar reads, “On inspecting the mobile phone, it is observed that he has recorded court proceedings on it for about 18 minutes on September 27, 2012.”
The court has now sent a copy of its order to the administrative committee to consider banning anyone other than a lawyer from bringing mobiles into the courtroom.
Currently, everyone can carry cellphones to court, but owners are fined Rs 500 if they are found talking on them or if they ring. Dhond confirmed the incident and said, “Recording is not permitted so that judges and lawyers do not feel burdened, as if someone from Bigg Boss is constantly watching them.”
Singh’s mobile is to remain with the Prothonotary and Senior Master until further orders from the court. Interestingly, this is not the first time a Bombay HC judge has acted firmly against mobile miscreants.
Earlier this year
On January 24 MiD DAY had reported (‘US judge gets lesson in law at Bombay HC’) how the cellphone of a holidaying circuit court judge from Illinois had been confiscated after she took pictures of court proceedings.