Justice must be seen to be done

Deccan Herald Mar 3 2018, 00:52 IST

The petition filed in the Supreme Court by senior advocate Indira Jaising seeking live streaming of court proceedings of important cases deserves to get positive and favourable consideration from the court. The court has sought the assistance of Attorney General KK Venugopal in taking a view on it. Indira Jaising has started an online petition also on the matter to get public support for the request. Live streaming of court proceedings goes well with the idea of an open judiciary and would strengthen the cause of justice. All Indian courts are open courts and all citizens can attend their proceedings. But the limitations of space and infrastructure ensure that only a few people can actually watch the proceedings and are allowed into the court room. Live streaming only removes this limitation with the help of technology and makes courts accessible to everyone. It rightly takes the court to the people, since they cannot all go to the court physically.

The benefits are many. It will make judicial proceedings transparent, and transparency of proceedings always strengthens institutions. The request is not for live streaming of all cases. Proceedings of cases that involve the privacy of individuals or national security issues or certain kinds of criminal cases are not for public viewing. The petition is only with respect to cases of national and constitutional import like those about the Aadhaar scheme, triple talaq and Section 377 of the IPC, etc, in which public interest is involved. People will get a better sense of the issues and learn how the courts work. This is important in a country where there is a lot of ignorance of law. Court proceedings and even verdicts are sometimes wrongly reported and interpreted. Live streaming will ensure that they are not misrepresented. If reporting is allowed, why not live streaming?

The right to know and the right to justice will both be served by the proposal. It provides better access to justice and will help to ensure that justice is not only done but is seen to be done. The functioning of courts, including that of lawyers, will be more efficient if it is open to public scrutiny. There is live streaming or recording of proceedings in some international courts, such as the International Court of Justice, and in countries like Britain and Australia. In India, parliamentary proceedings are telecast live to the nation. The petitioner has requested the court to allow video recording if it has reservations about live streaming. Streaming with a time lag can also be considered. A judiciary open to public scrutiny will strengthen and deepen democracy.

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