Live streaming of court proceedings: Matter to be dealt with by CJI on administrative side

The Supreme Court Tuesday said the issue related to implementation of its 2018 verdict allowing live streaming of court proceedings of cases of constitutional and national importance would be dealt with by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) on the administrative side.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said it would not pass any judicial order in the matter and it would be appropriate for the CJI to deal with the matter as the administrative head.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench that the apex court has already started the process of installing infrastructure for live-streaming of court proceedings.

“There cannot be any command to the administrative side of the Supreme Court. The CJI has to take a call on the administrative side on this issue,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Vineet Saran and M R Shah.

“Can we issue a command to the parliament to frame this or that law? Let the matter be examined on the administrative side by the CJI,” the bench said, adding that there can not be any judicial command on this and the Secretary General of the apex court would place the matter before the CJI.

Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for the Secretary General of the apex court, informed the bench that the process of implementing the 2018 verdict has already started.

The bench was hearing an application filed by senior advocate Indira Jaising who has sought implementation of the 2018 verdict.

The top court had on September 26, 2018 delivered a verdict allowing the live-streaming of court proceedings of cases of constitutional and national importance, saying this openness would be like “sunlight” which is the “best disinfectant”.

It said that as a pilot project, only a specified category of cases, which are of constitutional or national importance and are being argued before a constitution bench, should be allowed for live-streaming.

During the arguments on Tuesday, Jaising told the bench that broad guidelines for implementing the directives were set out in the verdict itself.

“Should it be by a judicial order or should we not leave it to the discretion of the Chief Justice of India? Let the CJI take a call on this on the administrative side,” the bench said.

Jaising told the bench that she had written to the Secretary General of the apex court to know about the progress made in pursuance to the directives given in the verdict.

Referring to the verdict, she contended that the top court had said that live streaming of court proceedings is part of the right to access of justice.

“Where is the room for us to direct any further on this now?,” the bench said, adding, “For this, we will have to experiment (pilot project) first”.

When the bench said that it would not give any judicial command on the issue, the Attorney General said, “Then the full court should decide this. You can ask the full court to take it up”.

To this, the bench said, “Can we direct this? The CJI can take a call on this. He (CJI) is the administrative head”.

“It will be better if CJI will take a call on this. It is not appropriate for us to issue command on judicial side,” the bench said.

The apex court had said in the 2018 verdict that sensitive cases such as those of matrimonial disputes or sexual assaults should not be live-streamed.

It said that for live-streaming of proceedings, the permission of concerned court will have to be sought in writing, in advance, in conformity with the prescribed procedure.

It further said, “The concerned court would retain its power to revoke the permission at any stage of the proceedings suo motu (on its own) or on an application filed by any party to the proceeding, if the situation so warrants.”

It also said that till a full-fledged module and mechanism for live-streaming of the court proceedings of the apex court over the internet is evolved, the first phase of live streaming would start from designated areas in the top court.

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