Live-Streaming of Court Proceedings

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Facts:

The access to information is the nodal principle for creating transparency in the democratic functioning of any institution. The Right to Information was an exceptional piece of legislation to make information accessible to the citizens. The Parliamentary proceedings are duly recorded and live streamed for the citizens. The objective behind it is to empower citizens with adequate information to know the opinions deliberated upon several issues of public importance and understand the law-making process.

The Writ Petition recently filed in the Hon’ Supreme Court of India by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising moots upon the question of live-streaming or video-recording of matters listed in the Hon’ Supreme Court for ordinary citizens. The petitioner has filed the Petition with the objective to make the institution of Judiciary more transparent and retain the public trust and confidence in it.

The Petitioner has initiated the online petition of “change.org” petition with the similar objective to gain public support for the same. There are certain important highlights for live-streaming of the court proceedings:

  • The live –streaming of the proceedings shall be of the cases of Constitutional or National importance;
  • No violation of privacy as family/criminal/other related matters where there are countervailing interests of privacy would be in camera;
  • It would empower and provide access to ordinary citizens;
  • Live streaming would be an informative mechanism for citizens to also understand the justice delivery process;
  • Criticisms and appreciations of judgments would be more informed as the citizens would be able to understand the basis/ratio of the decision;
  • Courts would be accessible for young lawyers and law students to learn and understand the court proceedings helping them to develop better as a lawyer;
  • It would instill a sense of accountability to the Judges and create a more transparent institution;
  • Till the infrastructure is created, proceedings can be uploaded on the YouTube channel which will be cost-effective.

Issues:

Whether is it important to live-stream or video recording of the matters before the Hon’ Supreme Court of India?

Feasibility of the Idea:

The bid to make the judiciary more transparent has been gaining momentum since the Press Conference held by the four senior-most judges of the Apex Court. The Supreme Court last year directed the installation of CCTV cameras in the trial courts and tribunals of each State. The very same endeavor has been taken forward by the petitioner to apply the same principle of transparency to the Supreme Court. The petitioner has relied upon making live-streaming for matters that have constitutional/national importance as these matters are likely to affect the citizens at large. Also, to address the issue of violation of privacy the petition has been very unambiguous to restrict it whenever there are countervailing interests of privacy such as in matters of family dispute, criminal, etc.

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