Transparency galore: India’s Supreme Court has allowed its proceedings to be streamed live to the public
- On 26 September, a three-judge bench of
Supreme Courtapproved a plan to commence the live-streamingof its proceedings to the general public.
- Live-streaming will mainly extend to cases directly related to articles in the
Constitution, not personal matters.
- There is, however, one condition that the Supreme Court laid down. There will have to be 10-minute lag in the broadcast so as to ensure that any information that should not be shown can be cut out.
In response to a series of public interest litigations demanding that court proceedings be live-streamed, in July 2018 India’s Supreme Court started looking into the possibility of doing so. The court asked Attorney General K K Venugopal to submit a report on protocols for live-streaming.
At the time, all parties expressed the benefits of such a move. These included greater
The rationale seemed clear: if India already had a system of open courts in place, why not evolve to a system of virtual open courts? With the live broadcast of Parliamentary sessions, a precedent was already in place.
As a result, on 26 September, a three-judge bench of Supreme Court approved a plan to commence the live-streaming of its proceedings to the general public, mainly for cases directly related to articles in the Constitution - which have the most implications for the Indian citizenry. Speaking on the verdict, Justice Chandrachud likened greater transparency to “sunlight”, which he termed as “the best disinfectant”.
The judicial authority has asked the central government to frame regulations for this. It is likely that cases involving personal matters such as matrimonial issues will be excluded from public broadcast.
The move will reportedly be implemented gradually. In the initial phase, proceedings from either one court will be live-streamed or a select number of constitutionally important cases will streamed on a pilot basis. Thereafter, more and more courts in the apex court will open their doors to live-streaming.
There is, however, one condition that the Supreme Court laid down, which slightly contradicts its “transparency-first” approach . There will have to be 10-minute lag in the broadcast so as to ensure that any information that should not be shown can be cut out of the footage. The court will also retain the copyright over the content that is broadcast.