BY: SHRUTI SHARMA
In September 2018, the SC decided that the live streaming of the court proceedings is an instrument having accountability under the ambit of the Civil Procedure Code, 1973. This also ensured greater transparency within the judicial system through the live streaming of constitutional validity cases in the Apex Court. In the words Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, the live-streaming of the court proceedings would encourage the principle of open court, reduce the dependency over the second hand information and increase the scope of the people’s right to information of the judicial proceedings. The live-streaming of the judicial proceedings have also been considered as the need of the hour by the Supreme Court. It increases the access of the justice as a result. The court had also asked the attorney-general Venu Gopal to frame comprehensive and holistic guidelines for the same. Venu Gopal, upon his submission to the Central, also suggested for the Centre to put up the television channel similar to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV that would broadcast the live-streaming of the courtroom proceedings. Senior advocate Indira Jai Singh filed the same petition before the court seeking the live streaming of the cases of constitutional and national importance, which have impact on the public at large. In her assertions, she mentioned that the live streaming be done keeping in mind the principle of access to justice that should not only be done but also shown to the public at large. This was necessary because the one’s being affected by the judgment had the right to know the events and the chronology of the entire proceeding. The matters dealing with environment, religious conflicts, constitutional validity, extra- judicial killings, etc. which concern the interest of the public at large across the country. This is also an intrinsic value laid down in the Article 21 through the right to be heard by ensuring the citizens understand the reasoning behind the judgment. Various degrees of recording of the court proceeding are permissible in different countries to ensure judicial transparency within the system. The Article 145(4) of our Constitution provides that such judicial pronouncement shall be made in open Court. Indeed, no such express provision is found in the Constitution regarding ‘open Court hearing’ before the Supreme Court, but that can be traced to provisions such as Section 32 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1973 and Section 153- B of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Quoting Bentham’s Principle of Open Justice in his judgment, Justice Chandrachud opined that the live-streaming of the court proceedings formed a genesis in the same principle. The bench considered that the live-streaming of court proceedings are in the public interest which has been preserved in the Constitution.
Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court, Indira Jai Singh in her petition had also pleaded for the framework of the live-streaming system by the central government. Indira moved an application before the Supreme Court for direction in the administrative side to frame rules regarding the same, under Article 145(1). She urged before the court for it to implement the 2018 judgment of Swapnil Tripathi vis-a-vis the same. Indira Jai Singh also put emphasis on live streaming of the five-judge bench and the nine-judge bench verdict, which is due. Moreover, those are of national significance, such as the Sabrimala case, Abrogation of Article 370 case or decision on the female genital mutilation among the Dawoodi Bohra community. She put forward that because of advancement of technology, it will not be difficult to set up the system for live streaming of the court proceedings. The same should be diploid at earliest irrespective of the framework through administrative rules by the court. In the 2018 judgment of Swapnil Tripathi case, Chief Justice Dipak Mishra agreed that by way of model project, the final hearing of at least a specified category of cases of national importance should be live-streamed as the extension of the Principle of Open Justice and more transparency of judiciary, which is identical to the Legislature. Under Article 145, the Supreme Court is empowered to make rules regarding the mode and method of live streaming of the court proceedings and the videography of the same.
The highlights of the 2018 judgment were that the
o The live streaming of categorized cases of national and constitutional significance to be set as a pilot project
o The live streaming to be done only by the consent of the parties of the suit
o There must be a reasonable time difference of approximately ten minutes between the live proceedings and its broadcast. It shall be edited as per the discretion of the court.
Upon hearing the plea and arguments of Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Central Government for framing the rules and guidelines for live streaming of court proceedings of matters pertaining to a national and constitutional importance.