A group of law students and young lawyers has written a letter to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, urging him to ensure that the mic system installed in all courts be mandatorily used.
The letter, written by law student Kapildeep Agarwal and advocates Kumar Shanu and Paras Jain, cites the difficulties faced by interns, litigants, lawyers and media persons while attending hearings in Supreme Court due to the mic system not being put to use.
“We being responsible citizens bring to your notice that during our initial encounters with the overcrowded court rooms of the Supreme Court of India as law students, we faced great difficulty in transpiring the court proceedings in almost all court rooms. A situation like this completely frustrates the purpose of court internships. This could have easily been avoided with the use of already installed Mic system in the court rooms.
Earlier we were of the view that this difficulty was just limited to law interns. Later on, unfortunately, we faced the same problem as litigants. A litigant not being able to properly observe the proceedings of his/her own case is nothing but a travesty of justice. Not only litigants and law interns, advocates also find themselves unable to effectively assist the Hon’ble Court without the use of Mic system.”
The letter then speaks at length about the difficulties faced by the media while reporting from Supreme Court.
“The media derives the fundamental right of freedom of press enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. This right could only be well exercised in true letter and spirit when the media persons get free and reasonable access to the Court proceedings…
…It is to be noted that with the growing influence of digital media, there is a great rush to break the news in real time. This might cause misreporting leading to irreparable loss to all the stakeholders involved. The chances of misreporting may easily be minimised by use of the already installed Mic system in the court rooms.”
The letter then proceeds to cite the information obtained through the RTI Act with respect to the mic system in the Supreme Court. As per the RTI response by the CPIO of the Supreme Court, the system has been an inherent part of the court rooms and has been in existence since the time of inception [of the Supreme Court].
The response further states that the mic system was replaced in two phases – one for Court Rooms 1 to 5 and Registrar Courts 1 and 2. The expenses incurred for the same were Rs. 38 lakh. The second phase of replacements from Court Rooms 6 to 15 cost the exchequer Rs. 53 lakh.
Thus, the total expenditure for replacement of the mic system came to Rs. 91 lakh.
The response, however, does not reveal when the mic system was replaced.
The letter also refers to the report submitted by the sub-committee of the National Courtroom Management System. Justice Baddar Durrez Ahmad, who was an invitee member of the E-Committee constituted by the Supreme Court, headed the same. In its report, the Committee observed that,
“there should be provision for sound amplification with microphones on judges table so that the judges questions/ directions to lawyers and witnesses are clearly heard by them”.
Interestingly, the letter goes on to cite the use of mic system in Justice Jasti Chelameswar’s court.
“It has been observed that the use of mic system in the court room of Justice Jasti Chelameswar of the Supreme Court of India, has been considerably benefitting all stakeholders.”
Stating that non-usage of mic system in Supreme Court amounts to wastage of public money and has no rationale, the letter ends with a request to the CJI to ensure the use of mic system in all court rooms in the Supreme court.
Read the letter and the RTI response of the Supreme Court below.