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Posted at: Jul 11, 2018, 12:38 AM; last updated: Jul 11, 2018, 12:38 AM (IST)

Live proceedings from SC

TV channel may be inadequate for an idea whose ‘time has come’
Live proceedings from SC

The die is cast for a first-ever court channel and the Supreme Court is taking the lead. The overt impetus is a PIL that argued that live proceedings will ensure that justice is not only done, but also seen to be done. The PIL had further contended that since courts deal with matters of national importance, it is desirable to have the proceedings streamed live. But the unspoken momentum must have been provided by the four judges’ press conference and the Supreme Court’s Collegium deciding to make public the process of appointment and transfer of judges in the context of then Judge Chelameswar’s refusal  to attend its meetings if the deliberations were kept confidential.

The idea may be to usher the TV camera in every court but a cautious and hugely symbolic beginning will be made with the apex court’s Court Number 1. In an environment framed by social media’s instant rulings that have created a desire for participative justice, this is the right time to improve general literacy about how courts decide cases. The live access to arguments by both sides will also establish the judiciary’s independence and impartiality, thus ensuring greater acceptance and internalisation, especially in cases of national or societal importance such as the Babri Masjid case or the issue concerning Jallikattu.

The proponents of the concept of telecasting the proceedings rely on the hallowed virtue of institutional transparency on grounds that this will make the process of justice more visible. But there is also the matter of sensitive cases involving minors and rape victims besides providing privacy to litigants and witnesses. For this, Attorney-General KK Venugopal, tasked with preparing the guidelines, will doubtless examine the UK model that restricts the capture or redistribution of footage; thus settling concerns about commercialisation or sensationlisation of 30-second takeouts from daylong gavel-to-gavel proceedings. As far as sensitive content is concerned, the courts only have to extend the procedure of in-camera proceedings. To avoid subjective interpretations over selecting the content for telecast, there is need for greater deliberation on the available technical solutions, besides the one on the table for a TV channel.


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