Live Streaming of Supreme Court Proceedings: Importance
- Transparency and greater access: Live streaming of Supreme court proceedings is a step in the direction of transparency and greater access to the justice system.
- Live streaming of Supreme court will help in saving the costs of travelling for litigants and the extra burden on the litigant’s shoulder can be reduced.
- Discipline: Live streaming of Supreme court is expected to bring discipline and improve how judges and lawyers conduct the proceedings.
- There were instances when lawyers used explicit phrases during arguments. Such use can be controlled through live streaming.
- Legal literacy: Watching live proceedings will not just increase legal literacy but potentially enhance the public’s continuous engagement with the Constitution and laws.
- Greater knowledge of law among public can increase their trust in judiciary and judicial process.
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Live Streaming of Supreme Court: Concerns
- Spread disinformation: Distorted clips from the Live streaming of Supreme court could be misused to spread disinformation among the public.
- There have been instances where clips have been edited to give a bad picture of advocates as well as judges.
- Individual exposure: Studies conducted on Live streaming of court of judicial procedure across the world have shown that justices behave like politicians and act to maximize their individual exposure.
- The desire to gain publicity can affect the efficiency of Supreme Court proceedings and waste valuable judicial time and resources.
- Public trial: There are chances that cases turn into public trial with public opinion influencing judicial decisions. Live streaming could have sub-conscious effects on judges and their ability to make non-biased judgments.
- Free opinion: Judges and lawyers will be hesitant to make critical comments fearing backlash from public.
- Technical issues: The court staffs are not trained to handle technical aspects involving live streaming of cases.
- There are chances of personal information being leaked if staff is not careful.
Live Streaming of Supreme Court: Opinion of the Attorney General (AG) of India
- Pilot project: The AG recommended introducing live streaming as a pilot project in Court No.1 (the CJI’s court) and only in Constitution Bench cases.
- The success of the project would decide if live streaming should be introduced in all courts in the Supreme Court and in courts pan India.
- Other suggestions: The AG suggested allowing transcripts and archiving the proceedings. The AG also suggested that the court must retain the power to withhold broadcasting.
- Reasons behind the opinion: De-congestion of courts and improving physical access to courts for litigants were the main reasons cited.
- The court must not permit live streaming in cases such as:
- Matrimonial matters,
- Matters involving interests of juveniles or the protection of privacy of young offenders,
- National security matters,
- Matters relating to sexual assault and rape,
- Matters where publicity would affect administration of justice,
- Cases which can arouse passion and provoke enmity among communities.
Live Streaming of Supreme Court: Way forward
- Careful selection of cases: There is a need for Supreme Court to carefully select cases that can be live streamed.
- Reduce potential of misuse: The archived stream should not be provided until it is legally/technologically possible to ensure that such videos cannot be distorted.
Live Streaming of Court: Practice across the world:
|The US Supreme Court does not allow broadcast of its proceedings but allows audio recording and transcripts of oral arguments.
|Live or delayed broadcasting is allowed but the practices differ across courts.
|Since 2002, live video and audio broadcast of court proceedings is allowed.
|Proceedings of Supreme Court are broadcast live on Cable Parliamentary Affairs Channel.
|The Supreme Court of South Africa has allowed the media to broadcast court proceedings in criminal matters since 2017.
|The Supreme Court proceedings are broadcast live with a one-minute delay on the court’s website, but coverage can be withdrawn in sensitive issues.