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The Karnataka High Court on Friday allowed an Intervention Application (IA) seeking a direction to maintain a legal transcript of court proceedings.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi allowed the IA filed by one Amrish Kilachand in a petition that seeks to implement audio-video recording of court proceedings in Karnataka. The IA states,
"...live streaming of court proceedings will enhance access to justice as this will enable the public at large to be aware of proceedings of the Hon’ble Court and allow them to understand their legal obligations and duties in a better way. Thus, this is not only beneficial to lawyers and law students, but also to laymen who lack adequate legal awareness. This is a vital tool to ensure that public faith is reposed in the Judiciary and this will increase the confidence respect and trust in the Judicial System."
It was further submitted that matters of constitutional and national importance that would have an impact on the public at large must be made easily accessible to the public for viewing. The IA goes on to state,
"In addition to this, a legal transcript of proceedings will help in easily retrieving information about such important matters."
The IA also states that access to court proceedings and judicial records is important, yet often overlooked. Live streaming proceedings and recording a transcript will improve transparency, judicial accountability and access to information, Kilachand has contended.
To buttress this contention, the IA places reliance on the fact that in various other countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, United States of America and countries of the European Union, court proceedings are live streamed and the transcripts of such proceedings - including depositions - are recorded and made available to the public.
Kilachand further submits that a similar application was filed before the Supreme Court in the case of Indira Jaising v. Registrar General Supreme Court of India & Anr and the same was allowed.
Having access to information through live streaming and by way of a legal transcript of the proceedings of the Court is a fundamental right guaranteed under Articles 19 (1) (a) and 21 of the Constitution, it was submitted.
The IA further stated that,
"I further submit that live streaming court proceedings, enabling access to the previous recordings of proceedings, as well as maintaining legal transcripts would eliminate a need of litigants to file review petitions and applications for being spoken to and to clarify orders or correct typographical errors, this will ensure that the judicial time would be focused on matters that need urgency. This not only improves the efficiency of the courts but also becomes a convenient, accessible and cost-effective method for disputants and lawyers to refer to cases."
Additionally, as a measure of caution, it was suggested that with respect to cases which may interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial, national security, or the proper administration of justice, the Court may limit, suspend or disallow broadcasting entirely.
The matter will be next heard on April 16.
Last January, the Karnataka High Court issued notice in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a direction to implement audio-video recording in the courts of the state.
The petition filed by Advocate Dilraj Rohit Sequeira states that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution takes within its ambit full access to the proceedings of courts and tribunals.
[Read IA here]