Recently, Chief Justice of India Mr. D.Y Chandrachud drew attention on the flipside of live streaming of court proceedings in his speech while addressing National Conference on Digitisation, Paperless and e- initiatives at Odisha Judicial Academy. He highlighted that there are various clippings viral on YouTube and probably on other social media channels as well where court proceedings are being perceived as funny videos. CJI’s motive was to make judges aware about how crucial it is for them to act consciously when the court proceedings are streaming live and for this they need to be trained. The things and stuff that happen in the court are serious and hence the entertainment being made out of it needs to be controlled.
LIVE STREAMING OF COURT PROCEEDINGS IN INDIA
The root of live streaming of court proceedings are found from the case of Swapnil Tripathi vs Union of India (2018). In this case, Supreme Court favoured the opening of apex court through live streaming. Court held that Right to Access Justice under Article 21 of India Constitution includes live streaming of proceedings. Gujarat High Court became the first high court to follow the mandate of live streaming of court proceedings by the Supreme Court. It was followed by Karnataka High Court. At present, Orissa High Court along with Jharkhand High Court and Madhya Pradesh High Court are live streaming their proceedings. However, the concept of open courts is not new in the Indian legal System. We find mention of open court hearing under Section 327 of Cr.P.C, 1973 and Section 153-B of CPC,1908.
sudden outbreak of Covid-19 Pandemic made it difficult to have physical court proceedings and left no choice except to click on the option of Virtual Court Proceedings. When the executives and legislative members can opt for virtual work process then why should Indian Judiciary stay behind from the technological advancement. Infact, on 27 September, 2022 Supreme Court directed that crucial constitutional benches will go through live streaming.
There is no two thoughts required to accept the fact that live streaming of the court proceedings is a remarkable step take towards digitalization and technological advancement. It has transformed the traditional judicial setup into a smart one and boosted the faith of public by increased transparency. Transparency is the key factor which uphold the belief of general public on the mechanism functioning in the country and reduces corruption which needs to explanation in the Indian context. Moreover, it helps in identifying the irregularities of the court. From the point of legal aspirants, live streaming has immensely helped in understanding the real process of court. This enhances legal knowledge and trains legal practitioners for adopting disciplined and structured manner of court process. Furthermore if we address the advantages live streaming has brought, the primary one has to be the comfort to the litigants. The trouble caused to litigants coming from far-flung villages and towns for the hearing is sharply reduced.
But as highlighted by the honourable Chief Justice himself that there is other side of the coin as well. The primary concern that arises out of live streaming is that there should be no chances at all where the dignity and decorum of Judiciary is hampered in the eyes of public. Judiciary is the utmost respected institution of the country. Any mockery or funny element made out of the proceedings will hit directly hit the reputation of the institution and that’s is why it is needed to be controlled. In this era of social media , it is not impossible to spread rumors and portray a complete different scenario. Anything can be edited and transformed in such a way that for general public or a layman it becomes difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is fake. Therefore, Courts needs to be more conscious of what output it is giving out to the general public and for this the judges needs to be trained. By trained, it means that needs to be conscious and aware of the consequences of any of their activity even if it is a part of adjudication of the case. Further, when something runs through internet, High security and privacy is required. Technological advancements must be coupled with safety equipment especially when something is of national importance. Court cannot blindly rely on third-party software. It is required to have strict data security and protection.
GENERAL COMAPARISON WITH OTHER COUNTRIES
If we look at the concept of live streaming of court proceedings in USA, we find that the Supreme Court of USA doesn’t allow for broadcast but live streams only the audio part of arguments of the court proceedings since 1955. Whereas United Kingdom live streams its court proceedings in video format after the amendment brought in 2005 which removed charges of Contempt on recording the proceedings. Brazil, which is a developing country has been live streaming its court proceedings of its Supreme Court through a TV channel and a radio channel since 2002. Not only this, there are separate dedicated YouTube channels which discuss about the court proceedings and the judicial system at large. However, France and Germany are not the ones having live streaming of court proceedings.
As we progress in the 21st century, there is no way to escape from the technological advancements. Adopting and adapting to such is important for any and every country to progress. India is adopting various measures of promoting digitalization such as introduction of UPI in the economic structure. Indian judiciary is also stressing on Paperless Proceedings in the court and now with live streaming of court proceedings Indian Judiciary seeks faster and effective adjudication of large number of pending cases. There is no doubt that some practical challenges are blocs in the way but at present it is a good start towards smart and effective judiciary.