The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the three pleas to declare access to virtual hearing as a fundamental right will be heard on August 1 [All India Association of Jurists v High Court of Uttarakhand & Ors]..The matter was mentioned by petitioner-in-person advocate Varun Thakur before Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana who said that the matter has already been listed. "It is already listed," the CJI said. "On August 1," the lawyer said. "Yes then it will be heard on that date. I am not getting into this," the CJI said..Advocate Siddharth R Gupta's request for oral mentioning of a connected matter was accepted after initial resistance by a Bench led by Justice Chandrachud. Gupta had sought urgent listing of his plea as well on August 1, arguing that the High Courts were following a reverse trend in doing away with hybrid hearings despite having all the infrastructure and wherewithal. The Bench at the outset orally observed that it could not run High Courts as per someone's wishes."It is the High Courts discretion afterall!" the Bench stated.It then agreed to list the matter with the other pleas after Gupta submitted, "The larger issue is not about the administrative powers of the High Courts, but the issue of access to justice that is also enshrined under Articles 39 and 39A of the Constitution." A report by a Parliamentary panel that had batted for hybrid courts and virtual access to continue was also cited..There are a total of three petitions pending before the Supreme Court seeking virtual hearing as a matter of right.The CJI-led Bench had earlier directed that those matters be placed before a Bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud, who is also the chairman of the e-courts project of the Supreme Court.The plea filed by the All India Jurists Association, a body of more than 5,000 lawyers across the country, and journalist Sparsh Upadhyay of Livelaw, has sought 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 petitioner-association has 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 argues 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 has stated 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 has 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.