Transparent Justice: Live telecast of court proceedings is not just appropriate in a pandemic, but serves the cause of transparency too

By: |
May 17, 2021 5:45 AM

Indeed, it was the SC that cleared the way for this, observing in September 2018, in connection with a petition for live telecast of court proceedings, that “sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

The police sought six weeks to examine the issue and conclude the enquiry, which was declined by the court on the ground that pandemic is going on right now and the police force shall stand up as it owes a duty to citizens.

Live telecast of the Supreme Court’s proceedings, that Chief Justice of India NV Ramana is “actively considering”, is not just appropriate for the times—Covid-19 has made distancing a necessity, and crowded court halls are proscribed till there is meaningful curbing of the pandemic—but also a vote for transparency.

Transparency is not just about open court halls, with members of the public barred from witnessing proceedings only in very specific situations; in the hyperconnected world, transparency is also about easing access through real-time electronic transmissions.

The Gujarat High Court has already been live-streaming its hearings for over six months now, The Print reports—this had earned mention by the Supreme Court in its judgment in the matter involving the Madras High Court’s lamentation over the Election Commission allowing campaign rallies for state-polls to continue well into the second wave.

The SC had noted then that the Gujarat HC “introduced livestreaming of its proceedings, in a bid to enhance public participation in the dispensation of justice”. Indeed, it was the SC that cleared the way for this, observing in September 2018, in connection with a petition for live telecast of court proceedings, that “sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

Former CJI SA Bobde however last year had said that he agreed “in principle” but he had to deal with “many complaints” over virtual proceedings—the bench hearing the relevant matter had opined that there could be “negative use or abuse of live streaming.” The refreshing change in the apex court’s thinking three years later needs to be welcomed.

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