Live streaming of proceedings can be started on pilot basis: Govt to SC
Apart from live streaming, the Supreme Court could, in the future, also provide for transcribing facilities and archive the audio-visual record of proceedings to make the webcast accessible to litigants and other interested persons, the Attorney General suggested.india Updated: Aug 24, 2018 23:47 IST
The Centre on Friday suggested to the Supreme Court that live streaming of proceedings could be started as a pilot project in the court of the Chief Justice of India and in Constitution Bench matters.
Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted a slew of suggestions to the bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, which supported the idea. The CJI put down opposition by a civil society group, saying: “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.”
The AG said live streaming would ensure courts are decongested. “The success of this project will determine whether or not live streaming should be introduced in all courts in the Supreme Court and in courts pan India,” he said, adding provisions could be made for the benefit of the differently abled.
But he clarified that live streaming should not be permitted in matrimonial matters, matters involving interests of juveniles or protection and safety of the private life of young offenders, cases involving national security and matters relating to sexual assault. Cases that could provoke sentiment and arouse passion or provoke enmity among communities should also be excluded.
The court must have the power to limit, temporarily suspend or disallow filming or broadcasting if, in its opinion, such measures are likely to interfere with the rights of parties to a fair trial or otherwise interfere with the proper administration of justice, the top law officer said.
“With this (live streaming), lawyers will have to be careful about how they address the court and dress because people outside can make fun of lawyers,” he said.
At this, senior advocate Indira Jaising, who had petitioned the court for live streaming, asked the bench to issue practice guidelines and make it compulsory for lawyers to adhere to them.
Apprehensions raised by NGO, Centre For Accountability and Systemic Change, were brushed aside. When advocate Virag Gupta said there was a risk of manufacturing fake news from clips of proceedings, Justice DY Chandrachud said the situation was “worse today.”
“Don’t you read what is written in newspapers the next day? There is live tweeting of our comments and during lunch time we get to read every comment made by us on various websites,” he said.
According to the judge, the courtroom had public access so there was no big deal in live streaming court proceedings. “We are actually incorporating the concept of open courts. This would also help in ensuring that people don’t overcrowd the courtroom and these proceedings will help law students in their academics,” he said. The bench then reserved its verdict on the petition.
The AG suggested that to ensure all persons, including litigants, journalists, interns, visitors and lawyers, were able to view live streaming of the proceedings, a media room should be designated in the top court premises with necessary infrastructure and facilities.
“The court may lay down guidelines/criterion to determine what cases constitute proceedings of constitutional and national importance to seek permission for broadcasting, he said. “Use of the footage would be restricted for the purpose of news, current affairs and educational purposes and should not be used for commercial, promotion, light entertainment, satirical programs or advertising.”
Apart from live streaming, the Supreme Court could, in the future, also provide for transcribing facilities and archive the audio-visual record of proceedings to make the webcast accessible to litigants and other interested persons, he said.
First Published: Aug 24, 2018 23:42 IST