PIL challenges mobile phone ban in Bombay HC

MUMBAI: A city advocate has filed a public interest litigation before the Bombay high court to challenge its ban on cell phones inside court rooms.

The challenge is to a circular signed by the HC registrar general on February 13 which has barred “litigants and public at large” from carrying mobile phones and any other audio-visual recording devices into court halls. The penalty for violating the order would be confiscation, fines and contempt of court actions.

The PIL filed by Advocate Vinod Gangwal says that order would inconvenience honest people. “A mobile phone is necessity of the day. All the responsible persons who come to the court in want of Justice, are aware or they are made aware that in the court premises mobiles should not be used,” he says. It adds that in other high courts such a ban does not exist.

The petition says, “innocent people can not be deprived their fundamental rights as per article 21 of constitution of India.” The Petitioner says that “there are people who come to the court and at the same time they have to communicate with their wards and family, their office, or with their ailing parents,” and asked how can “in such situation” people communicate.

“The circular will create complete disorder,” it adds.

Seeking the setting aside of the circular the PIL lists out the difficulties it would cause if not set aside:

“Lawyers will not be in a position to communicate to the client for urgent messages. Client will not be in a position to communicate their urgent messages.”
“Sometimes the court asks lawyers to call clients immediately but in the absence of mobile phones this would not be possible.

“World is moving towards paperless and sometimes a client brings hundreds of photos on mobile phones, lawyers select one or two from those, then it will be very cumbersome to carry all documents and photos.”
“It will be discriminatory as per constitutional article 14,19 & 21.”

It may inconvenience the media too, it says and impose an extra cost on litigants and also “endanger their lives”. “Litigants get anxious and if they do not get a message about serious matters and the developments in it it may affect their health, said Gangwal.