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Live Streaming of Supreme Court Proceedings

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.

 

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 Proceedings
Live Streaming of Supreme Court Proceedings

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

 

The US Supreme Court does not allow broadcast of its proceedings but allows audio recording and transcripts of oral arguments.

 

Australia

 

Live or delayed broadcasting is allowed but the practices differ across courts.

 

Brazil

 

Since 2002, live video and audio broadcast of court proceedings is allowed.

 

Canada

 

Proceedings of Supreme Court are broadcast live on Cable Parliamentary Affairs Channel.

 

South Africa

 

The Supreme Court of South Africa has allowed the media to broadcast court proceedings in criminal matters since 2017.

 

United Kingdom

 

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.

 

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