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The Karnataka High Court last week 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.
The petitioner avers that though the Supreme Court in 2018 called for live streaming of court proceedings for the larger interest of the public in the case of , the same is yet to be implemented in reality. The PIL prays for a direction to implement the judgment in Swapnil Tripathi.
In September 2018, the Supreme Court allowed live streaming of cases of constitutional and national importance. In its judgment, the Apex Court had observed that live streaming would increase accessibility to courtroom proceedings, effectuate the public’s right to know, reduce the public’s reliance on second-hand narratives, enable law students to observe and learn, enhance the rule of law, and promote better understanding of legal governance as part of the functioning of democracy.
It is also prayed that the Centre and the state government provide infrastructure to facilitate audio-video recording of proceedings in courts and tribunals across Karnataka.
The petitioner further argued that recourse to the Contempt of Courts Act, which is often used as a tool to secure implementation of the judgments of the Courts rendered under Article 32 or 226, would be inappropriate.
It is further stated,
"...public confidence in the system is very much important and is the foundation of its existence, more importantly for the judiciary. Hence the above petition is urgent in its nature, lest great inequity will be the fait accompli."
While issuing notice in the matter, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar observed that the Supreme Court had not issued any specific direction to the High Courts for audio-video recording of Court proceedings. The same was left to the discretion of the Chief Justices of the High Courts, the Bench opined.
The matter will be next heard on February 12.
[Read the PIL here]