Today, the Delhi High Court directed the Bar Council of India (BCI)to consider a representation as a petition, which demanded the formulation of rules to protect attorney-client privilege during virtual meetings by way of an Expert Committee.(Akhil Hasija vs BCI)
Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice PrateekJalan commanded the Bar Council of India and other authorities concerned to work in accordance with law and policy and as soon as possible and practical on the representation.
Advocate Akhil Hasija preferred the PIL in the sense of the risk of breaching the privacy of the parties through video conferencing platforms for virtual meetings as these can be hacked for the purpose of recording conversations with clients, etc.
Advocate Yash Mishra who appeared for Hasija, informed the Court that all the meetings with clients were now virtual through several video conferencing apps for virtual meetings due to COVID-19. No clear platform was recommended to safeguard data privacy in an online world.
The counsel drew Court’s attention to Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1982 where an advocate is notsupposed to disclose privileged communications with clients.
The Court after hearing the party noted that the PIL without first making a representation to the authorities had been preferred.
So with a direction to the Bar Council of India and other authorities concerned to treat it as a representation, the PIL was disposed.