New Delhi, August 24 (PTI): Lawyers have been expressing different views on the continuation of virtual proceedings in courts, the Supreme Court Tuesday observed when a plea against the Uttarakhand High Court’s decision to start a physical hearing of cases was mentioned for an urgent hearing.
“Some want courts to remain open, others do not want the same,” a bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Surya Kant said when a plea of lawyers’ body, All India Jurists Association, against the decision of the high court was mentioned for urgent listing.
The Uttarakhand High Court has decided to stop virtual hearing completely and this would cause inconvenience to litigants and lawyers, said advocate Siddharth R Gupta.
Referring to the difference of opinions among lawyers on the issue, the bench said that it would consider the submissions on the urgent listing of the plea.
Earlier, a plea was filed in the Supreme Court against an order of the Uttarakhand High Court that physical hearing of cases, which were suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will resume from August 24.
A notification was issued by the Registrar General of the High Court on August 16 which also contained detailed guidelines to be followed after the resumption of physical hearing of cases.
The plea has sought quashing of the notification which also said that no request for a virtual hearing will be entertained.
“Access to virtual courts and conducting cases through video conferencing by resorting to the usage of information, communication, and technology is a fundamental right available to every lawyer under Article 19(1)(a) and (g) of the Constitution.
”Being a fundamental right it cannot be defeated or dispensed with on procedural grounds of lack of technology or infrastructure or inconvenience of the courts in handling them,” the plea said.
The petition stated that the High Court order is against accessible and affordable justice being propagated by the e-committee of the apex court.
It has also sought directions that no lawyer in ordinary circumstances should be denied access to virtual courts or any category/class of proceedings before the High Courts.
The lawyers’ body has also sought a direction to restrain all high courts from denying access to lawyers through the virtual mode of hearing on the ground of availability of physical hearing.
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