Supreme Court Favours Live Streaming of Court Proceedings Based on PILs by Indira Jaising and Swapnil Tripathi

The Supreme Court of India has favoured live streaming of all court proceedings except in cases of sexual violence and matrimonial disputes. Citizens will now be able to view the entire proceedings of cases. The landmark decision came based on the Public Interest Litigations (PILs) filed by senior advocate Indira Jaising and law student Swapnil Tripathi following which the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Jutice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice A. M. Khanwilkar favoured the litigation.

Attorny General K. K. Venugopal has been assigned the charge of framing and implementation of guidelines with respect to live streaming.

With this, litigants will get to see the proceedings and their lawyers’ performance in real time. Jaising’s litigation stated that false reporting of cases and misinterpretation of them that happen during live tweeting could be curbed with live streaming. It also stated that citizens had a constitutional right to access the court proceedings.

Jaising’s litigation argued that some cases were of national importance taking the examples of the cases regarding the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, women’s entry in Sabarimala and the change of religious identity of Parsi women. In India, proceedings of both the houses of Parliament are recorded and telecast live on TV. Jaising’s petition stated that implementing such a practice in courts would increase transparency and accountability and instill confidence in the judiciary among citizens.

It has also been appealed that till the time necessary arrangements for live streaming are made, the court sessions be recorded and uploaded on its own YouTube channel. This  matter has been listed to 23 July 2018.

Indira Jaising also submitted in court that live streaming “may tend to lead to over performance of the advocates, knowing the fact that their client is watching them. Kerala High Court advocate Harish Vasudevan Sreedevi seemed to share Jaising’s opinion on this as well. Speaking to TWJ, he said, “it’s not that the proceedings being shown to the world will ensure transparency in all matters. If that was the case, the misuse of power and botching up of procedures in the Parliament should also have gone down. But the transparency and responsibility of any establishment will rise with this. The litigants will at least get to know if their counsel appeared for the hearings.”

Swapnil Tripathi’s litigation also sought access to court premises for legal interns.

Prior to this, court proceedings were reported by various journalists positioned in the court rooms at the time of the hearings. In the digital era, this had given way to live updates by journalists using their social media handles. However, such reporting were marred with incidents of misquoting.

There have also been cases where requests were made for in-camera hearings as opposed to open-court hearings to keep the details away from the public. During the famous Hadiya case, her father Asokan had sought permission from the Supreme Court for an in-camera hearing which the court denied. The court proceedings which were reported by the media had a huge role in forming public opinion on the case and the family ostensibly wanted to prevent that.

With the SC favouring live-streaming of procedures, it will become impossible to form public opinion or instigate people through false information and manufactured mystery.