Supreme Court allows live streaming of court proceedings

Sep 26, 2018 13:31 IST
Supreme Court allows live streaming of court proceedings

The Supreme Court of India on September 26, 2018 allowed live streaming and video recording of court proceedings across the country. The bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud asked the government to frame rules in this regard under Article 145 of the Constitution.

The top court stated that live streaming of court proceedings will bring accountability and transparency into the judicial system and serve the public interest. The bench said, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant, let people get first-hand information about what is going on in courtroom proceedings.”

The apex court had earlier reserved its verdict on the matter on August 24, saying it wanted to implement the concept of "open court" to decongest the courtrooms.

The Hearing: Key Highlights

During the hearing, Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing on behalf of the Centre, had said that live streaming could be introduced as a pilot project in the CJI’s court on matters of constitutional importance and had also submitted suggestions on the guidelines for the live streaming.

Venugopal had said that the success of this project would determine whether live streaming should be introduced in other courts of the apex court and in courts across the country.

He had also suggested that live streaming should be delayed by 70 seconds to allow the Judges to mute the sound when a lawyer misbehaves or if the matter is sensitive, like dealing with individual privacy or national security.

In reply to the same, the bench had observed, “we don't perceive any difficulty in live streaming. Let us first start with it and see how it goes. We are just on a pilot project. We are not ruling out anything and will improve with time. We cannot have everything together.”

Article 145 of the Constitution

1. Under the article’s provisions, the Supreme Court may from time to time make rules for regulating generally the practice and procedure of the Court, subject to the provisions of any law made by the parliament with the approval of the President of India.

Some of the rules include:

  • rules as to the persons practising before the Court
  • rules as to the procedure for hearing appeals and other matters pertaining to appeals including the time within which appeals to the Court are to be entered
  • rules as to the proceedings in the Court for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III
  • rules as to the proceedings in the Court under Article 139A
  • rules as to the granting of bail, stay of proceedings
  • rules providing for the summary determination of any appeal which appears to the Court to be frivolous or vexatious or brought for the purpose of delay

2. Besides, under the article, subject to the provisions of clause ( 3 ), rules made under this article may fix the minimum number of Judges who are to sit for any purpose, and may provide for the powers of single Judges and Division Courts.

3. Under the article, the minimum number of Judges who are to sit for the purpose of deciding any case involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution or for the purpose of hearing any reference under Article 143 shall be five.

4. Further, it states that no judgment shall be delivered by the Supreme Court save in open Cour, and no report shall be made under Article 143 save in accordance with an opinion also delivered in open Court.

5. The article also states that no judgment and no such opinion shall be delivered by the Supreme Court save with the concurrence of a majority of the Judges present at the hearing of the case, but nothing in this clause shall be deemed to prevent a Judge who does not concur from delivering a dissenting judgment or opinion.

Background

The bench was hearing petitions including those filed by senior advocate Indira Jaising, law student Snehil Tripathi and NGO 'Centre For Accountability and Systemic Change' on the issue.

Jaising, in her PIL, had sought video-recording of proceedings on matters of national importance. She, however, highlighted the need to include safeguards to prohibit unauthorised reproduction of broadcasts.

While considering her petition, the court had earlier observed that live streaming of court proceedings will help the litigant instantaneously know what happened to his case and how his lawyer performed his case before the court.

The court had also considered a petition by law student Swapnil Tripathi, who had challenged the ban imposed on interns entering courtrooms on miscellaneous days

The court had then asked the student to submit guidelines to the Attorney General regarding the creation of a live streaming room in the apex court premises exclusively for law interns and law students

During the proceedings, the counsel of the NGO had suggested that instead of forming a TV Channel or live streaming, the proceedings should be video recorded and hosted on the official website of the apex court.

The apex court had earlier termed the proposal of live streaming of the court proceedings as the "need of the hour".

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