Now watching: Supreme Court of India may go live during proceedings

Now watching: Supreme Court of India may go live during proceedings

  • The Supreme Court has declared that its willing to go live during its proceedings.
  • Attorney general KK Venugopal has been asked to submit a draft of necessary guidelines for a live-stream proceeding.
  • The Jury says that if it works well in the SC, live stream can be extended to other courtrooms in India.

On Monday, the Supreme Court (SC) took the first step towards live streaming proceedings by declaring its willingness to initiate the process. The court had rejected the idea many times before, however, it has now asked attorney general KK Venugopal, who supported petitioner Indira Jaising’s plea for live streaming, to submit a draft of necessary guidelines. The next hearing for the matter will take place on 23 July.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising of Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said that the court was conceptually an ‘open court’ and everyone is allowed to watch the hearings. It further added that a litigant must be entitled to know how their lawyers are dealing with their cases, even if the litigant is not physically present there and going live would make it happen. The SC pointed out that this live streaming would be most beneficial for people from far away places of South India, who otherwise have to travel all the way to the Capital to hear the proceedings.

The supporters also believe that it would lead to increased transparency. Last year the court had taken another huge step in transparency by allowing installation of CCTV cameras, recording both video and audio, across trial rooms and tribunals of all states.

The number of people crowding courtrooms during important judgements will also go down once the live streaming facility is activated. They will be able to watch it all sitting at home, much like the way it happens in England.

While, the right to information is strongly being asserted in support of this matter, the fundamental right to privacy comes under threat. The litigants’ right to privacy is at risk if courts discuss all cases live for all to watch. Apprehensions are being raised regarding national security cases, rape cases, matrimonial disputes etc that are far too sensitive to be put in front of an indiscrete public.

The court had been waiting since 3 May for a response from the Centre on the issue of live streaming. The government mooted the possibility of a separate television channel for the live stream, similar to what exists for streaming discussions that take place in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. Jaising has mentioned in her request that if it (the streaming) is to be done, the live broadcast must be non-commercial and reproduction of the stream must remain unauthorised.

If it works well in the SC, the jury says, the decision can be extended to other courtrooms in the country.