[op-ed snap] Should Supreme Court proceedings be live-streamed?

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of live streaming of court cases and related issues discussed in the newscard.


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What is the issue?

  1. The Indian legal system is built on the concept of open courts, which means that the proceedings are open to all members of the public
  2. But the reality is different
  3. On any given day, only a handful of people can be physically present and are allowed in the courtroom

An important question: Why shouldn’t the legal system benefit from technology?

  1.  While the courts are now opting for digitisation, with online records of all cases, a provision for filing FIRs online, an automated system of case rotation, etc.
    There is still a need to do more
  2. An important question arises
  3. In the light of these technological advancements, why shouldn’t millions of people be allowed to watch the rich deliberations that transpire in the halls of justice?

Live streaming of court cases is not needed for all the cases

  1. First, note that live-streaming is neither called for in all types of matters nor in all courts
  2. The emphasis is to make those matters that are of great public importance available for all to see
  3. Therefore, matters which have a privacy dimension, such as family matters or criminal matters, or matters with legal procedural intricacies, such as most trial court matters, are out of its scope
  4. But matters which have a bearing on important public interest issues such as the constitutionality of the Aadhaar scheme, or the legality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code,
    all of which are pending before the Supreme Court, should be available for all to watch

The demand is not impossbile

  1. Further, note that to promote transparency, live-streaming has been allowed for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha proceedings since 2004
  2. Similarly, the recording of videos in the highest courts in Canada and Australia, the International Court of Justice, shows that this exercise is neither novel nor so difficult

Why is it important?

  1. To educate common people on how the judiciary functions is a strong reasons in favour of allowing live-streaming of court proceedings
  2. It presents a hope for the Indian legal system to finally deliver on its promise to empower the masses, not be scared of them
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