SC streamed live: A welcome initiative
The Supreme Court’s decision to broadcast live the proceedings of all constitutional chambers is an important initiative with many positive aspects. The court had scheduled live streaming of proceedings in 2018 and a three-member judges’ panel had made a decision to do so. It also had some guidelines formulated on it, but the plan didn’t make much headway. During the pandemic, the Apex Court and many High Courts began holding virtual hearings, but this was in response to an emergency and did not mean the court proceedings were opened to the public. But the idea has caught on and there are currently six High Courts, including Karnataka, streaming their proceedings live on their own channels on YouTube. The high level of public interest in the process was evident from the large number of viewers who watched the live streaming of many of the hearings.
The three-judge chamber had found that live streaming “would lead to the dissemination of information in the broadest sense and would bring transparency and accountability to the judicial process”. It states that the right to know what happens in court is part of the fundamental rights of citizens. The judiciary is among the most important national institutions and must be held in high esteem and valued by the citizens. The transparency of their procedures will increase their credibility and public confidence in them, and any measure to improve their transparency is therefore to be welcomed. India’s courts are not closed to the public, but due to space and time restrictions, not many people are able to follow their proceedings. Live streaming brings them straight to the people. The notion that justice should not just be done but seen will take on a literal meaning when trials are made accessible to the people.
Most people in the country do not know how the courts work. You will get to know the court hearings better and gain legal knowledge by watching the hearings online. It will be especially useful for law students. Litigants and the public will also be able to better assess the behavior and performance of lawyers in court. The Supreme Court’s decision is particularly important given its ruling on the daily hearing of pending cases by 25 constitutional chambers. The court should consider extending the possibility to other cases, except for cases involving national security and other sensitive matters. The court can ask all other courts, including lower courts, to adopt the practice and governments should facilitate this by providing the necessary infrastructure. Since there are a large number of cases in the minor matters, there will be greater public interest in their proceedings.