Livestream of Court proceedings a facet of right to know: Plea in Jharkhand High Court seeks live streaming of court proceedings

The petition asserts that such live streaming of proceedings would improve access to justice, a dimension of Article 21, thereby improving public awareness of the legal system
Livestream of Court proceedings a facet of right to know: Plea in Jharkhand High Court seeks live streaming of court proceedings
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A petition has been filed in the Jharkhand High Court seeking the live streaming of court proceedings. (Dilip Kumar v. High Court of Jharkhand & Ors)

The petition, filed by law student Dilip Kumar argues that the live streaming of court proceedings is a part of the right to seek and receive information, which is a facet of the right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

The petition asserts that such live streaming of proceedings would improve access to justice, a dimension of Article 21, thereby improving public awareness of the legal system. It is emphasized that any effort towards live streaming court proceedings would further the concept of open court proceedings.

The petitioner avers that the concept of “Open Court” equally includes the “virtual access” to court-proceedings, rather just limiting the principle to the “physical access” to a courtroom. The concept of an open court finds mention in the Contempt of Courts Act, 1961, it is noted.

He goes on to state,

The element of sovereignty in judicial functions of the State mandates that administration of such sovereign judicial functions must be witnessed by the general public at large rather being just confined to the four-walls of the Court-room”.

An additional argument made is that the other organs of the State are live streaming proceedings. As such, the judiciary could not lag behind in this respect, the petitioner urges.

The petitioner also relies heavily on the Supreme Court’s dicta in Swapnil Tripathi v. Supreme Court of India, where the Court recommended the adoption of live-streaming both in the High Courts and in the district judiciaries as well.

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Notably, the petition as well, as an Intervention Application, makes reference to the Gujarat High Court’s recent initiatives in live streaming proceedings from the Chief Justice’s Court on its YouTube channel, along with its display board.

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The petitioner seeks similar interim reliefs from the High Court of Jharkhand, while the modalities for livestreaming are threshed out by the Court.

A similar petition was earlier filed by law student Pruthviraj Sinh Zala that sought directions for livestreaming Court proceedings in the Gujarat High Court to keep with the principles of open court and access to justice.

Pursuant to this petition, as well as after independent discussions within the Court, a Two-Judge Committee was appointed to work out the modalities to allow public access to virtual court hearings.

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