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Live streaming of Supreme Court proceedings

  • IASbaba
  • September 24, 2022
  • 0
Indian Polity & Constitution
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In News: The Supreme Court decided to live stream its proceedings in crucial Constitution Bench cases. Following the SC’s decision, Gujarat High Court began live streaming its proceedings in July 2021.

  • Currently, the Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and Patna High Courts live stream their proceedings.

Historical Reference:

  • In 2018, a three-judge Bench comprising then CJI agreed to hear a public interest litigation seeking live streaming of judicial proceedings on matters of constitutional and national importance citing the principle of open access to justice.

Methods of live streaming:

  • Synchronous: real-time live streaming
  • Asynchronous: uploading recordings after certain delay such as the next day

The Example of Gujarat HC:

  • The High Court of Gujarat implemented an in-house technical solution for live streaming of the Court Proceedings using computer systems, web cameras, digital audio interface and public address systems.
  • The Court is now equipped with microphones and speakers.
  • The live streaming is being done on the official YouTube Channel of the High Court which is now touching a subscriber base of 75000 and total cumulative views of 53 lacs.

Global Perspective:

  • Brazil: Allowed live video and audio broadcast including deliberations and voting process. A public television channel, a radio channel, and YouTube channels have been set up apart from broadcasting proceedings live.
  • South Africa: Allowed broadcasting as an extension of the right to freedom of expression
  • Canada: Proceedings are broadcast live on Cable accompanied by explanations of each case, overall processes, and powers of the court.
  • United Kingdom: Proceedings are broadcast live but coverage can be withdrawn in sensitive appeals.
  • USA: Supreme Court has rejected pleas for broadcast of its proceedings but allowed audio recording and transcripts of oral arguments.

Concerns:

  • Video clips of proceedings from Indian courts are already on YouTube and other social media platforms with sensational titles that creates fears of irresponsible or motivated use of content and spread of misinformation among the public.
  • Justices may behave like politicians when given free television time, they act to maximize their individual exposure (as per a 2018 paper by titled ‘Television and Judicial Behaviour in Brazilian Supreme Court)
  • Broadcast of proceedings corresponded with a growth in the frequency of filibustering.
  • A judge must not be swayed by popular opinion and public gaze.

Significance:

  • Help in addressing gendered disruptions in oral arguments, with women being interrupted at disproportionate rates by their male colleagues.
  • Help in improving transparency and greater access to justice system.
  • It will lead to de-congestion of courts and improving physical access to courts.
  • It is crucial for dissemination of information, free speech, and fundamental rights.

Way forward – AGI’s Recommendations:

  • Introduce live streaming as a pilot project and only in Constitution Bench cases.
  • The court must retain the power to withhold broadcasting, and to also not permit it in sensitive cases like matrimonial matters, juveniles matter and matters of national security.
  • Ensure that victims, witnesses, or defendants can depose truthfully and without any fear. Special protection must be given to vulnerable or intimidated witnesses such as face distortion.
  • Protect privacy and security of victims and witnesses such as relating to sexual assault or rape matters or in cases which may provoke sentiments and arouse passion and provoke enmity among communities.

Source: Indian Express               

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