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  • 23 September, 2022

  • 7 Min Read

Live-Streaming of the Supreme Court’s Proceedings

Live-Streaming of the Supreme Court’s Proceedings

  • The Supreme Court (SC) recently made the decision to stream live its proceedings in significant Constitution Bench matters starting on September 27, 2022.
  • The broadcast of judicial sessions has made positive systemic improvements possible.


What is the History?

  • In the case of Swapnil Tripathi v. Supreme Court of India (2018), the Supreme Court had decided in favour of live-streaming the proceedings at the top court.
  • It was decided that the right to access justice under Article 21 (Protection of Life and Personal Liberty) of the Constitution includes the live streaming of court hearings.
  • The Karnataka High Court followed the Gujarat High Court in being the first high court to broadcast court proceedings.
  • The high courts in Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and Patna currently broadcast their proceedings live.
  • The Allahabad High Court is thinking about using the same authority.

What were the Attorney-General of India's recommendations?

  • Only in Constitution Bench matters should live streaming be implemented as a pilot project in the Chief Justice of India (CJI) court.
  • If this project is a success, it will be decided whether or not live broadcasting should be used in all courts, including the Supreme Court and all courts throughout India.
  • The Attorney General (AG) provided evidence in support of his recommendation, including the decongestion of courts and increased physical access to courts for litigants who must otherwise travel great distances to the SC.

The SC gave its approval to a series of recommendations made by the A-G. However, the A-G argued that the court must continue to have the authority to prohibit broadcasting and must do so in situations involving:

  • Marriage-related issues
  • issues pertaining to young people's interests or the defence and safety of the private lives of young offenders
  • issues relating to national security
  • to make sure that defendants, witnesses, or victims can testify honestly and without fear.
  • Vulnerable or frightened witnesses need to be given special protection.
  • If the witness agrees to the broadcast being made anonymously, it can allow for facial distortion of the witness.
  • to safeguard all topics pertaining to rape and sexual assault, including any secret or sensitive material
  • Instances where disclosure would interfere with the administration of justice,
  • Cases that could elicit strong feelings, ignite passion, or incite hostility between populations.

What is the situation like in other nations?

  • United States: Oral arguments may be recorded and their transcripts may be published since 1955.
  • Australia: Live or delayed broadcasting is permitted, but different courts have different customs and standards.
  • Brazil: Since 2002, it has been legal to broadcast live court hearings in both audio and video, including the judges' discussions and votes.
  • Canada: Live coverage of proceedings is provided on the Cable Parliamentary Affairs Channel, along with explanations of each case and the court's general procedures and authority.
  • South Africa: As an expansion of the right to free expression, the Supreme Court of South Africa has since 2017 permitted the media to broadcast court proceedings in criminal cases.
  • United Kingdom: Starting in 2005, proceedings are streamed live on the court's website with a one-minute delay; however, in delicate appeals, coverage may be withdrawn.

What are Related Issues and the Next Steps?

  • Concerns: Existing video clips of Indian court sessions on YouTube and other social media platforms with spectacular titles and few context are fueling the public's propagation of false information, as has been the case in recent years.
  • The commercial contracts with broadcasters are also a cause for concern.
  • Another issue to be concerned about is the unauthorized usage of live streaming videos because it will be very challenging for the government to regulate it.

Way Forwards

  • Transparency and improved access to the justice system are advanced through the broadcasting of court sessions. Technology exists to make subjects of constitutional and societal importance available for public viewing, and citizens have a right to information.
  • In the event that a live webcast of the Supreme Court's hearings is not feasible, video recording of the proceedings need to be permitted instead.
  • The contracts with the broadcasters ought to be non-commercial in nature. The deal shouldn't benefit anyone.
  • To make sure that the video names and descriptions only provide factual information, a set of rules must be established.

Source: The Indian Express

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