App to View Supreme Court (SC) Proceedings Launched

    0
    265

    In News

    The Chief Justice of India, recently, launched a mobile app for journalists to see live proceedings of the Supreme Court (SC). 

    Background

    • The Media is considered the Fourth pillar of democracy. Objective of the media is to spread the news to people.
    • Presently, people can’t access the live proceedings of the Supreme Court as they could in pre-covid times. 
    • In this scenario, the Supreme Court has come up with this app where links will be shared on the App for virtual hearings.
    • The Supreme Court is also introducing a feature of Indicative Notes on its website and on the App too. It will be a repository to all the landmark judgements.
    • The virtual meetings will be opened for other courts too once a proper informed consensus is reached.
    • The SC has taken various steps in past years to take justice closer to people to access it. Even vernacular translations of the judgements are being provided by the Court.
    • The e-Court Mission Mode Project was conceptualized with a vision to transform the Indian Judiciary by ICT enablement of Courts.

    International Practices

    • In Australia, proceedings are recorded and posted on the high court’s website.
    • The proceedings of the Supreme Courts of Brazil, Canada, England and Germany are broadcasted live
    • The Supreme Court of the US does not permit video recording, but oral arguments are recorded, transcribed and available publicly. 
    • In China, court proceedings are live streamed from trial courts up to the Supreme People’s Court of China.
    • India stands alone amongst leading constitutional democracies in not maintaining audio or video recordings or even a transcript of court proceedings

    Benefits of Live Proceedings

    • Open to all: The Indian legal system is built on the concept of open court and the SC is an institution of constitutional governance. The public has a right to know about court proceedings and the live proceedings will be open to all members of the public.
    • Multi pronged benefits: Access to information for journalists, increased  transparency, ensuring the right to access to justice as geographical locations will no longer be an issue, building the right perception, fostering public confidence and educating common people on how the judiciary functions are important benefits of live-streaming of court proceedings. 
    • Safeguarding public interest: The matters such as entry of women to the Sabarimala temple, or the scope of the right to the choice of one’s food, or the constitutionality of the Aadhaar scheme, or the legality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code etc. should be available for all to watch because they have a bearing on important public interest issues.
    • Avoiding Fake News: The menace of fake news, and  the need to avoid multiple versions or wrong projections of facts make a solid case for allowing live-streaming/recording.
    • Safe work conditions: In post-Covid situations, the health of all will be safeguarded. The work from home will ensure safe working conditions for everyone involved.

    Challenges

    • The lack of technical infrastructure, internet connectivity in particular, is a major concern in a digitally divided nation. The technical glitches can make it worse.
    • The matters which have a privacy dimension, such as family matters or criminal matters, or matters with legal procedural intricacies etc. are out of its scope. 
    • There is a need to frame “Comprehensive Guidelines for Live Streaming of Court Proceedings in the Supreme Court”. Otherwise, the link to live access hearing could be misused.
    • If a report on a judicial hearing is inaccurate, it impedes the public’s right to know. Still, it is a difficult task to address the faulty reporting.

    Way Forward

    • The SC must take advantage of as many modes of communication as possible, including the internet, social media, television and radio. This will enable it to reach a wide cross-section of Indian society as “justice should not only be done, it should also be seen to be done”.
    • The pandemic has presented the Supreme Court with both a challenge and an opportunity to adopt technology. The live proceedings should continually be used even in post-covid times as:
      • It is a faster way of operating and justice will be delivered fast.
      • Travel costs and other expenses will reduce significantly.
      • Mechanisms would become more transparent and accountable.
    • Both audio-visual recordings and transcripts of oral arguments should be maintained for the purpose of posterity.
    • The openness and transparency will reinforce the public’s faith in the judicial system as “sunlight is the best disinfectant”

    Swapnil Tripathi v Supreme Court of India case (2018)

     

    • SC held that live streaming proceedings is part of the right to access justice under Article 21 of the Constitution. 
    • Also, publishing court proceedings is an aspect of Article 129
    • Journalists, young lawyers, law students, civil society activists and academics could all benefit from live streaming.
    • This judgement made clear that everyone is indeed equal in the eyes of the law.

    Source:TH