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'Concept Of Open Court Equally Includes Virtual Access': Plea In Jharkhand High Court For Live Streaming Of Court Proceedings

Akshita Saxena
14 Jan 2021 11:50 AM GMT
Concept Of Open Court Equally Includes Virtual Access: Plea In Jharkhand High Court For Live Streaming Of Court Proceedings

A public interest litigation has been filed before the Jharkhand High Court seeking Live Streaming of court proceedings, so as to ensure easily accessibility to the public at large.

The petition has been filed a law student and an ex-Defence personnel— Dilip Kumar, stating that the concept of an 'Open Court' entailed under the Constitution of India, equally includes virtual access to court-proceedings rather just limiting it up to physical access to Courtrooms.

Live streaming of Court proceedings is a fundamental right u/A 19(1)(a) of Constitution

The Petitioner has argued that the right to seek and receive information including audio-video live streaming of the Open Court proceedings of the High Court of Jharkhand is a fundamental right guaranteed under Art. 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

Relying on the Supreme Court's verdict in Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, GOI & Ors. v. Cricket Association of Bengal & Ors., (1995) 2 SCC 161, the Petitioner has contended that the right to freedom of speech and expression also includes the right to educate, to inform and to entertain and also the right to be educated, informed and entertained.

Access to justice guaranteed u/A 21 of Constitution

The Petitioner has pointed out that access to justice is and has been recognised as a part and parcel of right to life in India and in all civilised societies around the globe. He has submitted,

He has heavily relied on the Supreme Court's verdict in Swapnil Tripathi v. Supreme Court of India, (2018) 10 SCC 628, whereby all High Courts were directed to consider adoption of live-streaming both in the High Courts as well as in the district judiciaries.

"The right of access to justice flowing from Article 21 of the Constitution or be it the concept of justice at the doorstep, would be meaningful only if the public gets access to the proceedings as it would unfold before the Courts and in particular, opportunity to witness live proceedings in respect of matters having an impact on the public at large or on section of people. This would educate them about the issues which come up for consideration before the Court on real time basis," the Supreme Court had observed therein.

Other Grounds:

  • Element of sovereignty in judicial functions of the State mandates that administration of such sovereign judicial functions must be witnessed by the general public at large rather being just confined to the four-walls of the Court-room
  • In consonance with the underlying principle of the sovereign functions of the State, the other co-equal organs of State are already live streaming their sovereign legislative functions, as such, there is no scope for the judiciary to lack behind in terms of live streaming of its sovereign judicial functions
  • Being a Court of record it is imperative that the public-record of its sovereign judicial function is created word-by-word in similar manner as it is created by the other co-equal organs of the State e.g. Parliament and State legislatures

In this backdrop, the Petitioner has urged the High Court to frame Rules for enabling live streaming of Open Court proceedings and place such Rules before the full court/Rule committee for its approval under Article 225 of the Constitution.

In the interim, the Petitioner has urged the Court to live-stream its proceedings on its official YouTube Channel, in suit with the Gujarat High Court.

"High Court of Gujarat has already started live streaming of its Court proceedings on YouTube on the experimental basis and further Committee has also been constituted to work out the modalities and framing the Rules for said live-streaming of Court proceedings," the plea said.

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