Centre tells Supreme Court live streaming of proceedings can be introduced as pilot project
Attorney General KK Venugopal suggested that besides live streaming, the top court may also provide for transcribing facilities and archive the audio-visual record of the proceedings to make the webcast accessible to litigants and other interested persons who are unable to witness the hearings on account of constraints.
New Delhi: The government on Friday suggested to the Supreme Court that live streaming of proceedings could be introduced as a pilot project for matters of constitutional significance but not on issues which could arouse passion, affect national security or concerned matrimonial disputes or juveniles.
Attorney General KK Venugopal said the success of the pilot project will determine whether live streaming should be introduced in other courts in the apex court and in courts across the country.
The attorney general said that live streaming should be delayed by 70 seconds to allow the judges to mute the sound when a lawyer misbehaves or if the matter is sensitive, like one which involves individual privacy or national security.
"Live streaming of court proceedings should be introduced as a pilot project in Court no 1 (of Chief Justice of India) and only in constitution bench references. The success of this project will determine whether or not live streaming should be introduced in all courts in the Supreme Court and in courts pan-India.
"To ensure that all persons including litigants, journalists, interns, visitors and lawyers are able to view the live streaming of the proceedings, a media room should be designated in the premises of the court with necessary infrastructural facilities. This will also ensure that courts are decongested. Provisions may also be made available for the benefit of differently-abled persons," Venugopal said.
He also said that the court must have the power to limit, temporarily suspend or disallow filming or broadcasting, if it feels that such measures are likely to interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial.
The top law officer said that broadcasting must not be permitted in the cases involving matrimonial disputes, matters involving interests of juveniles, issues pertaining to national security or which may provoke sentiments and arouse passion and provoke enmity among communities.
He suggested that besides live streaming, the top court may also provide for transcribing facilities and archive the audio-visual record of the proceedings to make the webcast accessible to litigants and other interested persons who are unable to witness the hearings on account of constraints.
He said such webcasts will also allow students of law to supplement their academic knowledge and gain practical insights into cases of national importance.
Venugopal said the use of the footage should be restricted for the purpose of news, current affairs and educational purposes and should not be used for commercial, promotion, light entertainment, satirical programmes or advertising.
"Without prior written authorisation of the Supreme Court of India, live streaming or the webcast of the proceedings from the Supreme Court should not be reproduced, transmitted, uploaded, posted, modified, published or re-published to the public.
"Any unauthorised usage of the live streaming and/or webcasts will be punishable as an offence under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 and the Information Technology Act, 2000 and any other provisions of the law in force. The law of contempt should apply to such proceedings. Prohibitions, fines and penalties may be provided for," the AG said.
Venugopal also suggested that the courts may lay down rules of coverage to provide for the manner in which the filming may be done and the equipment that will be allowed in the court.
"Case management techniques should be introduced to ensure that matters are decided in a speedy manner and lawyers abide by time limits fixed prior to the hearing. A skeleton of arguments/written submissions should be prepared and submitted to the Court by the lawyers prior to their arguments," he said.
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