Senthilbalaji case | Madas HC judge talks to senior counsel on phone when he turns inaudible during hybrid hearing

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Justice N. Anand Venkatesh

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

When court proceedings can be conducted through video call, can they not be conducted on a phone call too. Why not? said, Justice N. Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court on Thursday, February 15, 2024 and spoke to Senior Counsel C. Aryama Sundaram on phone when the latter became inaudible during the hybrid hearing of former Minister V. Senthilbalaji’s bail plea.

Mr. Sundaram, predominantly practising at the Supreme Court, had flown down to Chennai on Wednesday to argue in the former Minister’s bail plea in a money laundering case booked by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED). After he argued the matter for nearly two hours, the judge decided to hear Additional Solicitor General AR.L. Sundaresan for the ED on Thursday.

Then, Mr. Sundaram sought the permission of the court to appear through video conference on Thursday for replying to the ASG’s submission and the judge readily accepted the request. However, when the hearing commenced on Thursday afternoon and the ASG began making his submissions, the senior counsel’s name appeared on the screen in the court hall but his face was not visible.

Mr. Sundaram interrupted during the arguments to say that his video appeared to have been disabled at the court’s end and requested permission to share his video. At this point, the ASG, in a lighter vein, said, Mr. Sundaram could, however, be heard loud and clear as always. The judge too quipped: “How can anybody miss you Mr. Sundaram?

Moments later, Mr. Sundaram’s video appeared on the screen and he sat through nearly two hours of arguments advanced by the ASG. When the turn came for Mr. Sundaram to reply to the ASG’s arguments, his audio couldn’t be heard through video conference due to a technical glitch. After waiting for a few moments for it to get rectified, the judge asked the counsel on record to make a phone call to the Senior Counsel.

“Call him over the phone. I will talk to him on phone. Anyway technology has progressed, we can do this too,” Justice Venkatesh said and spoke to Mr. Sundaram who requested for an adjournment till Monday. The judge accepted the request and adjourned the hearing on the bail plea to Monday.

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