SC okays live streaming of hearing in constitutional matters

New Delhi, Aug 3 (AGENCIES): | Publish Date: 8/4/2018 2:41:47 AM IST

Supreme Court on Friday said that live streaming of judicial proceedings in matters of “constitutional importance” can be undertaken and asked the attorney general to frame “holistic” guidelines for its perusal and approval.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also asked parties, including senior advocate Indira Jaising who has filed a PIL for video-recording of proceedings in matters of national importance, to submit their suggestions to Attorney General K.K. Venugopal.

Venugopal, in turn, would collate the suggestions and prepare “holistic guidelines” which would be perused and may be approved, the bench, also comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, said.

The court, which listed the PILs for hearing on August 17, made it clear that it would not adjourn the hearing that day on the ground that the AG did not supply a copy of his suggestions to the parties.

During the brief hearing, it said that the matters, to be heard by Constitution benches and a bench of three judges, would be of “crucial and of constitutional importance” and their proceedings may be considered for live streaming or video recording.

It also sought Venugopal’s views on live streaming of proceedings in cases concerning two individuals and asked whether the consent of parties would be required or not.

In his petition, Swapnil Tripathi, a student of National Law University in Jodhpur also sought a direction for setting up live streaming rooms within the apex court premises and granting access to the legal interns.

“Once live streaming will be allowed, your problem will be solved,” the bench said when Tripathi alleged that students are not allowed to witness proceedings in all matters in the apex court.

BesidesJaising and Tripathi, charitable organisation Centre For Accountability and Systemic Change, through its lawyer Virag Gupta, also filed a PIL seeking a direction to the apex court registry and ministries of Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology to “video record the proceedings of all the courts, and make them available to public and parties, subject to regulations”.

“The present petition is being filed in public interest, to enable the litigants’ right to information, as available to them under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution. It is sought that this court under Article 14 of the Constitution may direct video-audio recordings of proceedings of all courts in India in a time bound manner.”

“The President, Prime Minister, parliamentarians and jurists are at a consensus that the judicial reforms are need of the hour,” it said.

Earlier, the Centre had said that video recording and live streaming of judicial proceedings can be undertaken on a trial basis in constitutional matters being heard by the chief justice of India’s court.

The bench was also told by Venugopal, whose assistance was sought by the court, that a pilot project for live streaming and video recording of judicial proceedings can be undertaken on experimental basis.

Jaising, in her plea, has sought live streaming of matters of constitutional and national importance. She said citizens have the right to information and matters of constitutional and national importance can be live streamed.

In western countries, she said, this system was in place and live streaming of court proceedings, including that of the International Court of Justice, are available on YouTube.

If live streaming of the top court’s proceedings is not possible, then video recording should be allowed, she said.

According to her, live streaming of Supreme Court cases of constitutional and national importance, having an impact on public at large, will empower and provide access to citizens who cannot personally come to the court due to socio-economic constraints.

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