SC open to live streaming its proceedings

New Delhi: In a step aimed at bringing transparency and accountability, the Supreme Court on Monday said it was open to live streaming of its proceedings under “comprehensive and holistic guidelines”.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said that if they go for live streaming, it would start off with one court as a pilot project and then it could be extended to the remaining courts.

The bench sought the assistance of Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and other senior lawyers.

Venugopal told the court that the government would set up a dedicated channel on the lines of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TVs if the court decided to go for live telecast of its proceedings.

Justice Chandrachud said that the live streaming would bring transparency and access to justice. He said the litigants would know what transpired during the hearing of their cases.

“I may not be present in the court, yet I will be able to know what is happening,” said Justice Chandrachud while pointing out that clients and litigants have the right to know if a matter was being adjourned and why.

“We are only enforcing the principle of open-court hearing,” the court said.

In the course of his submissions, the Attorney General said that the live streaming of the top court’s proceedings would discourage some lawyers from raising their voices.

“There won’t be raising of voices,” he said, in an apparent reference to a situation in the past when lawyers became too loud in making a point, a conduct not appreciated by the court.

The top court had on February 9 sought Venugopal’s assistance while dealing with three petitions, including those filed by senior counsel Indira Jaising and lawyer Mathews J. Nedumpara.

Jaising sought the live streaming and video recording of court proceedings of cases of national importance with a bearing on a large section of people.

Jaising had based her PIL on the right to receive information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and the principle of open courts and access to justice as protected under Article 21.

Pointing to the principle of law that justice should not only be done but also seen to be done, Jaising contended that the best possible way to achieve this was to live-stream the proceedings in important cases so that arguments of all counsel and interaction between judges and lawyers during hearings was “recorded accurately and without distortions”.