Record Ayodhya hearings or allow Ram Bhakts entry to SC until live-streaming plea is decided: Letter to CJI

Record Ayodhya hearings or allow Ram Bhakts entry to SC until live-streaming plea is decided: Letter to CJI

Meera Emmanuel

RSS idealogue KN Govindacharya has written to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi requesting that the court proceedings in the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid/Ayodhya case be recorded on audio/video or that the transcripts of the hearing be prepared so that it may be available for release if the Court decides to allow his plea for live-streaming the case hearings.

The letter follows an oral concern raised by Justice SA Bobde today that there were no facilities in place presently to live-stream the case proceedings in the Ayodhya matter. The Ayodhya case is due to be heard on a day-to-day basis from tomorrow.

In view of the concern raised today, Govindacharya has now requested that some record of the case be made in the meanwhile, which may be publicly released depending on the Court’s decision on his plea. As noted in his letter,

I do understand that on such short notice, it may be difficult to do the live streaming. Therefore, I request you to please immediately allow and facilitate video/audio recording of the proceedings in the matter. If recording is not possible, then the Hon’ble Court may direct required number of court staff to write transcript of the proceedings. These recordings/transcripts can be released later on, as per the decision of the Hon’ble Court on the administrative side.

The letter points out that for such a record to be prepared, no further changes are required to the Supreme Court rules, particularly given that journalists are already permitted to carry mobile phones into courtrooms.

In support of his plea for recording the case hearings, Govindacharya has also highlighted that if the proceedings were recorded thus, it would prevent the spread of misinformation concerning the sensitive case.

Recordings of proceedings in such a sensitive matter of national importance, by the Supreme Court will also prevent the confusion, politics and half-baked information that is spread through unauthorised sources.

In the alternative, if the plea for recording the case proceedings is declined, Govindacharya has requested that all Lord Ram devotees may be allowed entry to the Supreme Court to witness the proceedings first hand. In this regard, the letter states,

Lastly, in case recording in any form is not possible, then I along with other members of the public, who are devotees of Lord Ram may please be allowed to enter the Supreme Court to witness the daily proceedings in the matter.

On a concluding note, Govindacharya points out that it has been a year since the Supreme Court passed a judgment allowing the live-streaming of important cases. He argues,

The people of India have an inherent right to know and right to access justice. The judgment dated 26 September 2018 itself says that “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. It has been a year since the Supreme Court directed for live streaming. The Hon’ble Court should promptly enforce its own judgments, otherwise it affects the majesty of the Hon’ble Court.”

Govindacharya’s plea for live-streaming the Ayodhya case was mentioned by Senior Advocate Vikas Singh before Justice SA Bobde, since Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is not sitting today.

To buttress his plea, Govindacharya has placed reliance on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change v. Secretary General in which the Supreme Court had allowed the live streaming of cases of Constitutional importance that take place in the court of the Chief Justice of India.

Justice Bobde noted this morning that there were institutional changes needed to facilitate the live-streaming sought for. All the same, the Court assured the petitioner that the issue would be taken up on the administrative side.

[Read Letter]

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