“Need of the hour”: AG to submit guidelines for live streaming of Supreme Court proceedings

“Need of the hour”: AG to submit guidelines for live streaming of Supreme Court proceedings

Shruti Mahajan

Calling it the “need of the hour”, the Supreme Court today directed Attorney General for India KK Venugopal to devise guidelines regarding live streaming of court proceedings by July 23.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud was hearing a PIL on this issue, when the AG was directed to devise the modalities of the proposal.

Venugopal submitted that broadcasting the proceedings of the Court will benefit the litigants. However, he stated that it would not be practical to stream every case; a set of guidelines to decide the important cases that need to be broadcast and the method by which the same should be done, ought to be brought in, he submitted.

While the AG in essence agreed with the proposal of live streaming court proceedings, a question about the conduct of lawyers in the court room was brought up. CJI Misra remarked,

“Each member of the Bar must train themselves to be disciplined.”

Adding to this thought, Justice Chandrachud said,

“We’re not being critical of the Bar… We have come here from the Bar but, how many times do lawyers seek adjournment in cases?”

The Bench then sought suggestions from members of the Bar on the issue, stating that the experiment of live streaming will begin with the Supreme Court.

The Bench also noted that live streaming of court proceedings is effectively in furtherance of the principle of an open court.

“We have open courts in India. Once we have accepted the concept of an open court model, by extrapolating, we’re only effectively extending the principle of an open court”, Justice Chandrachud observed.

CJI Misra then shed some light on the rights of a litigant saying,

“In India we have an open court system till the court is converted into in-camera. Where there is an open court hearing, litigants are entitled to know the progress in their case. The concept of access to justice provides that though a litigant is not in court, they are able to know what is happening in their case in the court.”

Senior Counsel Indira Jaising weighed in, saying that through live streaming, an official record of the proceedings will be maintained. Jaising made it clear that access to the broadcast should not be with any commercial interests.

“Nobody should make money out of live broadcast since it is for educational purpose and for the benefit of the litigants”, Jaising submitted.

The Court then directed the AG to place his recommendations and a set of guidelines on this subject before the Court by July 23.

Earlier this year, Jaising had filed a PIL seeking live streaming of Court proceedings in cases that are of constitutional and national importance having an impact on the public at large or a large number of people. The broad thrust of the petition is that, as stakeholders, the public has the right to be informed of such cases.

In February this year, the Court had directed that the petitions seeking live streaming of court proceedings be furnished to the Central Agency so that Attorney General can assist the court in the matter.

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