The Madhya Pradesh High Court has opposed a plea before the Supreme Court that sought to declare virtual hearing as a fundamental right [All India Association of Jurists v Uttarakhand High Court & Ors.].The Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a plea filed by the All India Jurists Association, a body of more than 5,000 lawyers across the country, and journalist Sparsh Upadhyay, seeking a declaration that right to participate in court proceedings through virtual courts via video conference is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) and (g) of the Constitution."The existence of infrastructure ensures that there would be continuing access to justice to litigants in future should the need so arise. Mere existence of infrastructure does not vest an automatic right on the advocates to claim that they are entitled to appear through virtual mode", the Madhya Pradesh High Court submitted, while opposing the prayers sought by the petitioners..The petitioner-association contended that the High Courts of Uttarakhand, Bombay, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala were not providing joining links for attending cases through virtual mode. Their plea argued that the denial of access to the facility of hearing cases through virtual mode is akin to denial of fundamental Rights under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution.The plea filed, through advocate Sriram Parakkat,contended that virtual courts and conducting cases through video conference by resorting to use of information, communication and technology is a fundamental right available to every lawyer under Article 19(1)(a) and (g) of the Constitution.Such access cannot be defeated or dispensed with on procedural grounds of lack of technology or infrastructure or inconvenience of the courts in handling them, the petitioner has submitted.Interestingly, the petitioner-association has also sought impleadment of the E-Committee of the Supreme Court as one of the parties to the case.Another plea filed by the National Federation of Societies for Fast Justice through advocate Mrigank Prabhakar also sought a directive to the High Courts to refrain from discontinuing with the option of video conference and virtual court hearings without the permission of the Supreme Court’s e-committee..The Madhya Pradesh Hough Court, however, contended that even though virtual hearing was allowed during COVID-19, it cannot be used to substitute the physical appearance of lawyers. .It also stated that the amount of Rs. 100 crores mentioned in the Application is not received and utilized entirely for video conferencing purposes. "The funds that were invested are provided by the State government and E-committee for overall upgradation of IT Infrastructure of the High Court and the District Judiciary in the State of Madhya Pradesh and the funds that were provided by the State Government and E-committee were not dedicated solely for video conferencing purposes," the High Court's reply read..In an attempt to question the locus of the petitioner organization, the High Court stated that "none of the litigants have approached this Court alleging any denial of access to justice to them" and that all the "petitions are filed by advocates practicing in various courts -seeking permission to appear in other courts through hybrid mode.".The Central government's reply to the plea echoed this contention stating, "All the petitions are filed by advocates practicing in various courts -seeking permission to appear in other courts through hybrid mode. It is submitted that such access to different courts virtually is nothing but convenience for advocates and cannot be termed as any legal right let alone a fundamental right."