Written By- Pretika Tiwari
[All India Association of Jurists vs Uttarakhand High Court and Ors.]
The Supreme Court, on Monday, granted the impleadment applications to make all those High Courts, which have stopped entertaining requests for virtual hearings, a party to the issue before the top court in the case which seeks for a declaration of ‘virtual hearing as a fundamental right’. The bench of justices DY Chandrachud and Sudhanshu Dhulia had allowed for the impleadment of an e-committee of the apex court. The National Federation of Societies for Fast Justice and the All-India Jurists Association filed petitions, and the court had already given notice in both cases. And later, the bench gave notice to the petition filed by Advocate Varun Thakur, one of the three petitions filed before the Supreme Court in the case. A declaration that the right to participate in judicial proceedings via video conference is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) and (g) of the Constitution has been requested in the petition filed by the All-India Jurists Association, a group representing more than 5,000 lawyers nationwide.
The association claimed that the Uttarakhand, Kerala, Bombay, and Madhya Pradesh High Courts did not provide joining links to attend the case hearing remotely. In their argument, it was contended that denying access to the option of having cases heard virtually amounts to denying fundamental rights protected by Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution. Advocate Sriram Parrakat, representing the petitioners, had submitted before that court that “conducting virtual hearings by resorting to the use of information, communication, and technology is a fundamental right under articles 19(1)(a) and (g) of the Constitution’. And access cannot be denied because of a lack of technological infrastructure or inconvenience.
The plea filed by the National Federation of Societies for Fast Justice has sought a directive to the High Courts to refrain from non-conduction of the virtual hearings without the prior consent of the e-committee of the Supreme Court.