Live Streaming: “There is a flipside to technology, but we should also look at the positive side,” Chandrachud J.
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Live Streaming: “There is a flipside to technology, but we should also look at the positive side,” Chandrachud J.

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today reserved its order in the petition filed by Indira Jaising calling for live streaming of Court proceedings.

Attorney General for India KK Venugopal submitted to the Court a host of guidelines for live streaming. Among these was the suggestion that live streaming be started as a pilot project for cases of Constitutional importance in Court No. 1 of the Apex Court.

Jaising added that the guidelines on live streaming should include “practice guidelines” as laid down by the Court, which would encompass disciplinary directions. CJI Dipak Misra’s quick response to this was,

“The first direction has to be that when one Counsel is on his or her legs, nobody else should stand up to speak. The impatience to speak has to be abandoned.”

Advocate Virag Gupta submitted that while live streaming appears to be a good idea, the footage thus recorded cannot be stored on platforms like YouTube, citing the rule that Indian data cannot be saved on foreign servers.

The Court assured him that the option of uploading the cast on YouTube was not being considered.

“We never said we’ll save it on YouTube”, CJI Misra rebutted

“We’ll save it on your website”, added Justice DY Chandrachud.

Gupta, however, argued that live streaming of court proceedings can add to the problem of fake news and said that persons watching the proceedings on the webcast can circulate statements made by judges without giving context.

Justice Chandrachud said that this is an even bigger problem in the absence of live streaming.

“This problem is worse without live streaming. There are people live tweeting from inside the court and there is no official or authentic record of it.

We have an open Court system where anybody can come and sit and through this, we will be truly implementing this system for the people outside the Court.

There is a flipside to technology, but we should also look at the positive side,” Justice Chandrachud said.

CJI Misra weighed in and said,

“If a judge is making a certain remark, it should be recorded.”

Justice Chandrachud added that there already exist “dozens of websites” that give a detailed account of Court proceedings with quotes of what each judge has said.

Speaking in favour of live streaming, CJI Misra told Gupta that as of now, people outside Court can only read about court proceedings, but with live streaming, “they can use their eyes and ears”.

Advocate Mathews Nedumpara recommended that live streaming should not be restricted to cases of Constitutional importance.

“Even in a Pilot project, it shouldn’t be only for Constitutional cases… People should also be able to see other proceedings, how in a minute an SLP is dismissed”, Nedumpara argued.

“People can’t come to our residences to see that before dismissing an SLP in a minute, Judges spend at least half an hour reading it”, Justice Chandrachud responded.

The Bench said that everything cannot be implemented at once, and that this exercise can start as a pilot project for now.

Reserving its order, the Court said that it will consider the recommendations made by the Attorney General and other counsel.

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