[Coronavirus] Supreme Court urged to hear plea for implementing live-streaming on priority
Litigation News

[Coronavirus] Supreme Court urged to hear plea for implementing live-streaming on priority

Meera Emmanuel

The Supreme Court has been moved to expedite the introduction of live streaming of court proceedings, in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic in a plea filed by KN Govindacharya.

Referring to the decision of the top Court to restrict its functioning as a precautionary measure to guard against the spread of the virus, the application highlights,

“… the drastic measures taken in view of COVID-19 which affect the working of the Hon’ble Court would not have been required had the Hon’ble Supreme Court been live streaming its proceedings. It would have saved country-wide travel of litigants and further protected them from COVID-10.”

KN Govindacharya

Further it is submitted that,

“… the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to embrace technology in the justice system… this Hon’ble Court by mandating live-streaming can usher in a new era."
KN Govindacharya

The application filed through Advocate Sachin Mittal and drawn by Advocate Gaurav Pathak further argues that the Supreme Court has been lax in implementing its own decision to allow the live-streaming of proceedings by way of its 2018 verdict in in Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change v. Secretary General.

Whereas Govindacharya had raised the issue during the course of the Ayodhya case, he points out that his plea has not been heard since September last year.

In this backdrop, he argues that, “The Court’s action of not proceeding with live streaming, which is necessary for judicial reforms, does not enhance the confidence of the general public in the judiciary."

"In the last few years, controversies have arisen in a number of matters before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, which could have been avoided if live streaming was present.”
KN Govindacharya

He goes on to submit that the introduction of live-streaming would ameliorate the issue of overcrowding in the Court, at relatively minimal costs when compared to the expenses incurred for the construction of new buildings to accommodate the crowd.

“Adopting live streaming / recording / transcription in comparison will cost peanuts, and has the potential of solving the problems of crowd management within the existing building infrastructure.”

KN Govindacharya

He adds that, “the aspect of crowd management is of vital importance as it also relates to public health. Recently, six judges of the Hon’ble Supreme Court has released a notification regarding restrictions on functioning of Court due to COVID-10 pandemic. Thus, it is clear that the Judges, Advocates and Litigants are at a great risk of communicable diseases due to their increased public interaction.

While this is the case, he argues that the Court cannot put its functioning on hold because of these issues given the huge toll that would take on case pendency.

Rather, it is pointed out that the dispensation of justice has to continue, even in the midst of public health emergency, which can last for months. With a view to solve this crisis, Govindacharya has now urged to Court to hear his plea for live-streaming court proceedings at the earliest.

Additionally, he also notes that it is time that the Court notify a mechanism for mentioning and listing cases, given his plea has not been heard since September 2019 despite it being mentioned several times before the Registry.

On a related note, it was hinted yesterday that the Supreme Court was on the verge of commencing virtual courts following a meeting held to discuss how the Court would work around the coronavirus outbreak.

Justice DY Chandrachud, who is the Chairman of the e-committee, had assured, inter alia, that ‘people to people’ contact will be reduced by introducing court proceedings via video conference and that separate rooms for the counsel for each party will be made available.

Smart televisions may be installed in the press lounge for the convenience of the journalists and e-filings can be done at any time of the day, it was informed. The court proceedings and filing procedures will soon go digital and paperless, it was further stated.

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