In addition to the change.org petition garnering 42,000 votes, Indira Jaising submitted a petition in the top court, which has agreed to hear it.

Enable Indians to understand how SC works Petition to livestream court proceedings
news Law Tuesday, February 06, 2018 - 18:15

Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising has started an online petition asking the apex court to allow livestreaming or record cases of national interest, in a bid to help people understand how the judiciary works.

“The law and judicial processes play a huge role in all our lives. It governs our behaviour, it protects our rights and property,” reads a line from her change.org petition. She also points out that most people have no idea how some of the most important decisions are taken in the apex court.

She has also filed an official petition in the Supreme Court in this regard. Last month, the court agreed to hear it as well.

“The petitioner submits that the live streaming and videography of the proceedings of the Supreme Court in matters of great public importance will be in keeping with the principle of open access to justice and will ensure justice is not only done but it is seen to be done,” Indira’s plea said.

In her online plea, Indira argues that everyone cannot be present in New Delhi to hear arguments of judges’ concerns in important cases. “Technology will help us bridge the gap and make it possible to access the Supreme Court, and virtually enter the courtroom even when not present,” she says.

Giving the example of the Indian legislature, she says that live streaming proceedings in both Houses helped bring about “awareness about the functioning of Parliament, all State Assemblies and our elected representatives”. Indira adds that live streaming judicial proceedings would help “increase awareness and bring transparency in the decision-making process”.

Nitin Mishra, a practicing advocate, and Karuna Nundy, a Supreme Court lawyer, have agreed with Indira’s arguments.

Nitin believes that livestreaming cases of national and constitutional importance would help reinforce faith in the judiciary and help bring transparency and accountability.

Meanwhile, Karuna states, “Open justice is important for citizens to understand how and why their rights are being expanded or limited - it’s basic to constitutional democracy.”

However, both agreed that not every case can be live streamed or recorded. Especially when the court feels that a particular case can stir communal tensions, say, it can choose to delay live streaming or reportage, Karuna adds. “The court may allow reportage after the proceedings for instance, if it feels that the course of justice is being subverted because of the media coverage,” she says.

When it comes to understanding court proceedings, Nitin does not think live streaming will be very helpful. “Many times, when senior lawyers present their arguments, it is difficult for us to understand as well. So, I cannot say that it would help them understand all the arguments. But it can definitely help the people see that the court works under the aegis of constitution, not politics, not anything else,” he says.

The online petition has received over 42,000 signatures so far. See it here

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