Monday, October 3, 2022

Supreme Court declines urgent hearing for plea seeking virtual hearings be declared a fundamental right

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The Supreme Court on Friday declined to permit urgent hearing on a plea seeking that virtual court hearings be declared a fundamental right for litigants.

Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra mentioned the matter before the bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and P.S. Narasimha.

Luthra submitted that there is a rise in Covid cases and sought urgent hearing in the matter.

The Apex Court said that there is no urgency in the matter as there are more urgent matters like people in jail, bail cases etc.

On September 6, 2021 , the bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, B.R. Gavai and B.V. Nagarathna issued notice to the Bar Council of India and the Supreme Court Bar Association after impleading them as party in a writ petition filed by the All India Association of Jurists, seeking to declare virtual court hearing as a fundamental right.

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The Association of All Indian Jurists and Advocates, representing around 5000 advocates from across the country, had filed a Writ Petition under Article 32 before the Supreme Court, seeking immediate stay of the administrative order issued by the Registrar General, Uttarakhand High Court, through which the functioning of virtual courts has been terminated by the High Court, compelling all the lawyers to conduct their cases through physical.

The petition raised an important plea of declaration of ‘access to virtual courts’ by both the Counsel as well as the client as a Fundamental Right guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution, which cannot be terminated casually and cursorily by the High Court through an administrative order.

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The petition, which also impleaded Registrar Generals of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the Bombay High Court and the Kerala High Court, pleaded that the SOPs on paper though permit virtual hearings, but many Courtrooms are compelling and coercing lawyers to appear only physically, by not conveniently providing joining links virtually for attending their cases through a virtual mode in the hybrid model adopted by them.

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