Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 7
Almost three years after the Supreme Court agreed to live streaming of its proceedings, its e-committee led by Justice DY Chandrachud has come up with draft guidelines containing a regulatory framework for the purpose.
“The e-committee, Supreme Court of India envisages a judicial system which is more accessible, efficient and equitable for every individual who engages with the justice delivery system,” it announced on its website.
Maintaining that the rules were aimed at bringing “greater transparency, inclusivity and access to justice”, the top court has invited suggestions on the draft guidelines by June 30.
The draft rules envisage installation of cameras in the courtroom covering at least five angles, one towards the Bench, the second and third towards the advocates engaged in the concerned matter, the fourth towards the accused (where applicable) and the fifth towards the deponent/witness, as required.
A sub-committee comprising judges of the Bombay, Delhi, Madras and Karnataka high courts would frame model live streaming rules.
“In the event that the court has employed an electronic evidence presentation system, an additional feed shall be captured therefrom.
“A remote-control device shall be provided to the presiding judge on the Bench to pause or stop the live-streaming at any time. Advocates, witnesses, accused, or any other person permitted by the Bench, shall use appropriate microphones while addressing the court,” the top court said in a release.
In order to decongest the courtrooms, dedicated room(s) for viewing the live-stream may be made available within the court premises.
Access shall be given to law researchers, staff, litigants, academicians, and media personnel authorised to enter the court, the rules envisage.
“Premises upon receipt of necessary permissions/approvals. Appropriate arrangements shall be made to enable viewing of live-streams from multiple Benches within this/these room(s). Special arrangements will be made for differently-abled persons,” it said.
“These rules are framed by the High Court of Judicature in the exercise of powers under Article 225 or relevant statute where applicable, and Article 227 of the Constitution of India. These rules will apply to the High Court of Judicature and to the courts and tribunals over which it has supervisory jurisdiction,” the release stated.
“The right of access to justice, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution encompasses the right to access live court proceedings. To imbue greater transparency, inclusivity and foster access to justice, the e-Committee has undertaken the project of live streaming of court proceedings on priority.
“This will enable access to live court proceedings, including on matters of public interest to citizens, journalists, civil society, academicians and law students on a real time basis, which was not otherwise possible owing to geographical, logistical or infrastructural issues,” it stated.
However, the draft rules made it clear that matrimonial matters, including transfer petitions arising thereunder, cases concerning sexual offences, including proceedings instituted under Section 376 (rape) of Indian Penal Code, cases concerning gender-based violence against women among others will be excluded from live-streaming.
“The final decision as to whether or not to allow the live-streaming of the proceedings or any portion thereof will be of the Bench, however, the decision of the Bench will be guided by the principle of an open and transparent judicial process. The decision of the Bench shall not be justiciable,” it said.