Right to Virtual Hearing

The Supreme Court while considering the writ petition of declaring virtual hearing as a fundamental right issued the notice to opt for both the modes of hearing as of now to ensure justice to all without any hindrance. The writ petition was filed by all India association of jurists, a body comprising of more than 5,000 lawyers across the nation, they challenged Uttarakhand’s decision to opt only for physical mode of hearing. According to counsel for petitioner, online court hearing should always be an alternative to reduce the cost of lawyers to travel and paper work.

On questioning as to how does it violate a fundamental right? The counsel for respondent submitted that virtual hearings made it accessible to all to go to court even in the conditions of pandemic thereby ensuring justice to all which in itself is a fundamental right. For such emergency situations, it is pertinent to opt for hybrid or mix model to ease the access of justice to all. Hybrid models cannot function consistently and physical courts cannot be removed instantly. It is an inordinate method to promote digitalization as well as optimal utilization of the available digital platforms. It was stated by the petioners that the usage of information, communication and technology for the purpose of virtual hearing falls under the ambit of fundamental rights provided under Article 19(1)(a) and (g).

Thus, Lack of technology or necessary expertise should not be regarded as a ground for depriving the lawyers for the said right. Therefore, it was plead before the Apex court to declare that the right to attend virtual hearings through the video conferencing is a fundamental right of the attendees and participants. With respect to this, the Top court issued a detailed order on 6th April, directing the hearing of all the courts to be held virtually due to the prevailing Covid-19 circumstances. 

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