Despite the Chief Justice of India voicing reservations over a proposal for audio-video recording of court proceedings to enhance transparency and discourage witnesses from retracting statements, the government has requested him to consider the issue afresh.
The matter had came up for discussion at a meeting of the e-Committee of the Supreme Court on January 8, 2014.
The then Chief Justice of India had advised deferment of the audio-video recording of court proccedings as he wanted the issue to be discussed with the judges of the apex court and 24 high courts.
Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda wrote ot the CJI on July 10 last and again on January 20 this year requesting him to consider the issue afresh.
The Law Ministry says it has been receiving suggestions favouring audio-video recording of proceedings for greater transparency.
The facility is being mooted for introduction in subordinate courts to begin with. The proposed electronic recording of court proceedings would usher in transparency as it would discourage witnesses from going back on their statements. Re-recording of witnesses' statements often leads to unwarranted delay in trials and adds to the pendency list, says the agenda note for the meeting of the Advisory Council of National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms.
There are over 3.64 crore cases pending in various courts. Of these, almost 3 crore are pending in subordinate courts alone, according to data compiled by the Law Ministry.
"...allowing such recordings can contribute to transparency of court processes by allowing a precise record of the proceedings and at the same time discouraging improper conduct in courts and wastage of court time. The efficiency of courts can also be enhanced by maintaining standard system generated formats of routine judgments and orders, particularly in civil cases, which may be used by courts for quick delivery of judgments," the Ministry had said in the meeting of the Council.
The top court had last year dismissed petitions seeking approval for video recording of judicial proceedings. The view put forth was that our legal system has not reached the level where the video recording of court proceedings can be permitted.
A proposal to include audio-video recording in Phase-II of the e-Courts Project was placed before the e-Committee of Supreme Court by the Law Ministry in January, 2014, but it was decided that video recording should not be included in Phase-II of the e-Courts Project.