Supreme Court goes live : The Tribune India

Supreme Court goes live

Thousands watch proceedings of Constitution Benches

Supreme Court goes live

The Supreme Court’s viewership reached unprecedented numbers on Tuesday when thousands of viewers watched the proceedings of three Constitution Benches on the Internet. The significance of the historic occasion was underscored by Justice DY Chandrachud, heading the five-judge Bench hearing Maharashtra’s Sena vs Sena spat case, when he said: ‘We are virtual.’ The Bench headed by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit heard arguments in the case relating to 10 per cent quota for the economically weaker sections, while Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul’s Bench heard the case challenging the All India Bar Examination. The proceedings of each case, live-streamed on YouTube, had thousands of virtual viewers in attendance. With the interpreters of court hearings bypassed, viewers were themselves able to watch and understand the proceedings, unfiltered. This can only be good for the principles of transparency and accuracy.

On September 26, 2018, the country’s highest court had given its nod to the live-streaming of cases of ‘constitutional and national importance’, noting that transparency is like ‘sunlight’, the ‘best disinfectant’. Late last month, the SC live-streamed the ceremonial proceedings of a Bench headed by outgoing Chief Justice NV Ramana on the day he was to demit office. Then, a week ago, 30 Supreme Court judges agreed to implement the court’s 2018 judgment, which had also taken into account the need to decongest the courts and provide easier access to litigants without them having to travel long distances. A few high courts have already been live-streaming their proceedings. In time, we are likely to see the day when testimonies would be recorded in various courts through video-conferencing.

Last year, Justice Ramana, speaking at the launch of the Gujarat High Court’s live-streaming of proceedings, had struck a word of caution. ‘A judge cannot be swayed by popular opinion,’ he said. ‘Yes, with increased public gaze, he might become a subject of multiple debates....That should never deter him from his duty to protect the right of one against the might of many.’ He also called upon the lawyers to ‘always uphold and maintain the dignity of the profession.’ Sage advice. The court must also take stern steps to ensure that miscreants do not use piecemeal video clippings from proceedings to spread misinformation or cause discord in society.

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