In a setback to supporters of greater transparency in working of judiciary, the Delhi high court on Tuesday dismissed a plea for permitting lawyers and litigants to audio and video record court proceedings in high court and subordinate courts.
"An effort has been made to give sermon in the name of transparency. An individual sermon cannot attain status of law…such a direction cannot be issued in the absence of legislative enactment," a bench of chief justice Dipak Misra and justice Sanjiv Khanna said, adding, petitioner Deepak Khosla, a businessman, did not have a "legal right" in this regard.
The court also disallowed him a "certificate to appeal in the Supreme Court" saying, "It does not involve a substantial question of law of general importance". Khosla who is fighting nearly 20 cases in the court said: "It will make court proceedings more transparent. All parties — the litigant, opposite party and the judge can be made accountable to what transpires in court and they shall not go back on their words. Human memory is fallible."
"If we really wanted our judiciary to be accountable to all and to demonstrate transparency in how it arrives at its decisions, we need to adopt audio recording of all proceedings," he said.
Interestingly, while referring Khosla's plea to the chief justice's bench, justice SN Dhingra of the court (now retired) had said on February 28 this year that the "step will also be deterrent against judges who do not come to courts on time as then there will be evidence against in this regard in the form of CDs and cassettes".
Khosla had created a stir in the court on April 8 last year when he succeeded in taping at least 100 minutes of hearing of his case before the court before the judges ordered seizure of the recorder.