Stressing on the need for clients to know what is happening in their case, Attorney General for India KK Venugopal today urged the Supreme Court to consider live-streaming of its proceedings.
The suggestion was made to the Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, which was hearing a suo motu writ petition concerning guidelines to be followed while conducting virtual hearings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing the examples of live streaming of proceedings before the High Courts of Madras and Gujarat, AG Venugopal stated that the same should be considered for the Supreme Court as well. He said,
"I was watching live streaming of proceedings from Madras HC. There was no glitch. Live streaming can be on your agenda so hearings can be seen across the India. This can be whichever cases."Attorney General KK Venugopal
CJI Bobde said that he himself must be heard in this regard, as he was the one who hears all the complaints.
The issue was raked up again by Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, who reminded the CJI that he had to say something about the live streaming process. However, CJI refused to comment on it publicly.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta stated that live streaming would lead to people filing petitions just for the sake of "being heard all across the country."
Nevertheless, AG Venugopal persisted for the Court to consider his request as "even clients deserved to know what is happening in the courts."
CJI Bobde has observed that a decision on this will soon be taken.
The AG also suggested that it be arranged in such a way that smartphones are enough to attend virtual hearings. This would benefit lawyers in rural areas, where there is no access to laptops or necessary infrastructure.
To this CJI Bobde, observed that the Centre should look at reviving that tablet that was launched a couple of years back.
"Some years ago, Centre had promoted someone who had made tablets for Rs 4,000 or 5,000. Such tablets will go a long way in helping the virtual court project."CJI Bobde
Tweaking a part of the guidelines issued on virtual hearings during COVID-19, the Supreme Court today stated that High Courts may follow their own rules on video conferencing.
The Bench stated that the rules framed by a High Court for virtual hearings will cover appellate proceedings as well as trial matters.
Today, Justice Chandrachud revealed that 11 High Courts have already framed their own rules for virtual hearings based on the model rules formulated by the Supreme Court e-Committee.
CJI Bobde added that the courts who are yet to frame rules will do so, and in the interim, they will follow rules framed by the Chief Justice of that High Court.