In a very crucial step towards transparency and accountability, a Supreme Court bench comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud and headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra has observed that live streaming of SC proceedings could be done for constitutional matters or social matters of constitutional importance. The bench also said that the top law officer would gather the suggestions and come up with holistic guidelines for perusal and approval of the court.
The Bench asked the petitioner to submit their suggestions to the Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal. Further hearing on the matter is scheduled on 17th August.
The centre had maintained that video recording and live streaming of judicial proceedings can be started on a trial basis in constitutional matters being heard by the Supreme Court. Attorney General also enumerated many other benefits of live-streaming the proceedings. He said, “Knowing that the entire country can watch them, there will be fewer interruptions and raised voices on the part of the advocates…it will be a great lesson for them…if we observe the hearings in the British courts, we can see how sober and dignified they are.” He further continued, “It would also go a long way in the training of the interns who wish to learn from the highest court of the country and who are the future lawyers…ultimately, the suggestion is that the proceedings of all courts and not merely the Chief court or the Constitution benches should be shown.” AG also said, “Like the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the Supreme Court may have its own channel.”
According to a Free Press Journal report, 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. She further said, “In western countries, 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 also maintained, “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.”
This is a revolutionary step, and it will go a long way in increasing the judiciary’s credibility and transparency. The judiciary has faced a lot of public anger, especially after some controversial midnight hearings. When people would watch live-streaming, a lot of doubts are likely to be cleared. It would also enhance the legal literacy of the people and would also increase institutional transparency. It would also make judiciary more accountable. This step is in the right direction. Let us hope that live-streaming becomes a reality before some of the most historic verdicts in the country’s history, like that of the Ram Mandir, are given.