Live streaming of court proceedings has started: SC
Says there is need to institutionalise the process
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said that it wants to institutionalise the live streaming process so that there is a uniform platform where courts across the country can webcast their proceedings.
The top court said though it has started the process, a proper system needs to be put in place and for that, suggestions have been sought from the public.
A bench of justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli, which was hearing a plea filed by advocate Mathews J Nedumpara seeking live streaming of proceedings, said this court has followed the law laid down in its September 27, 2018, verdict of a three-judge bench.
“We have started the process but we want to institutionalise the process, where every court across the country can live stream their proceedings. It should not be like one court is doing while the other is not. There has to be some kind of uniformity. For this, an uniform platform is needed which has viable access across the country,” the bench said.
Justice Chandrachud said the live streaming process should not be haphazard or ad-hoc but there has to be continuity to this.
“We have framed the legal framework. As a chair of the e-committee, we have formulated the rules and put it out for suggestions from the public. We are seeking feedback from the public,” he said and asked Nedumpara to give suggestions as to how this system could be more feasible.
The bench said many high courts such as Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Patna have started this process and many chief justices are writing to the e-committee to know about the process of live streaming.
“You (Nedumpara) can also seek the help of domain experts and let us know about the viable solution as to how we can institutionalise this entire process on a common platform,” the bench said and posted his plea for hearing in January.
On September 27, the top court had for the first time taken a giant leap towards transparency and accessibility and live streamed proceedings of its three constitution benches simultaneously through its webcast and video streaming on YouTube which was watched by more than eight lakh viewers.
The decision to live stream the proceedings of the constitution benches was taken by the full court on September 20 and soon trial runs were undertaken by the registry.
“The technical support teams ensured that the live streaming was without any obstruction or difficulty and was completely seamless,” a press statement of the top court had said.
It also added that this step will go a long way in overcoming barriers of distance and provide to citizens from every nook and corner of the country opportunity to watch Supreme Court proceedings.
Proceedings of three constitution benches, including a bench headed by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit, which heard and reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas challenging the validity of the 103rd Constitution amendment providing 10 per cent reservation to economically weaker sections (EWS) persons in admissions and government jobs.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Lalit had recently said the top court will soon have its own “platform” to live stream its proceedings instead of having to use YouTube.
On September 27, 2018, the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, heading a bench delivered a landmark judgment on a live telecast or webcast of important proceedings in matters of constitutional importance.
It had said as a pilot project, only a specified category of cases that are of constitutional or national importance and are being argued before a constitution bench should be live streamed.
The top court had said sensitive cases such as those dealing with matrimonial disputes or sexual assault should not be live streamed.
Justice Chandrachud was also one of the authors of the 2018 verdict along with now retired Justice AM Khanwilkar and then Chief Justice Misra.
He had on July 31, while speaking at a valedictory ceremony of the first All India District Legal Service Authorities, said the judicial institution has to give up resistance to adopting modern means of communication to reach out to the masses and earn the respect of the community at large, or else it will “lose the game”.
While referring to tools like social media platforms, he had said that the courts have been “reticent” to modern means of communication.
Justice Chandrachud was of the view that judges and judiciary have to “shed their fear”, whether it is about using platforms such as Twitter and Telegram, which are now widely prevalent, or the live streaming of proceedings.
“There is a world of accountability at large and I think we can earn the respect of the community at large provided we adopt and come on the platforms which are so prevalent in the society. The judicial system cannot be left behind if we are to be the harbinger of change,” he had said.
Justice Chandrachud had also said, “Unless, we as a judicial institution, shake this resistance to adopting these means of communications, which are so widespread in our society today, we would perhaps lose the game and I do believe that we are already in the process of losing the game unless we shake this fear as to what would happen if we use modern means of communication.”