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THE ACCESS TO THE COURT

The cases brought in front of the court is in respect of the society and is related to the public only, so to make them public means to actually bring the answers and corrections out of the students who failed the test. But bringing out the solutions and clarifying doubts don’t always guarantee optimal results, considering this we can analyze the contemporary state of access to the court and its proceedings which is being famed after its allowance through internet.


Many consider that the live streaming of the court proceedings started during the era of the Covid-19, well from the roots, it got famous from that time, but for the first time the Supreme Court of India ruled in the favor of opening up the apex through live streaming in the case of “Swapnil Tripathi v. Supreme Court of India”  for the accountability and the transparency of the proceedings and also the accessibility of the same to the public.

As mentioned by the above case, the main motto before the Covid-19 of the online and live streaming of the proceedings was to have public confidence in the judiciary by transparency, accountability and also maintain the soul of justice, i.e. Publicity; “and the same was observed by the Bentham in Scott v. Scott” that, in the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing.”

Now while considering the popularity of the same, it happened because of the pandemic, people were unable to join the proceedings physically, for the conveyance and consideration of everyone’s health and security they got turned towards it.  


For the same, i.e. the live streaming of the court proceedings an app has been developed and there is also a website by which even the normal public can get the link for the Constitution Benches in session and they can join them. Thereafter, on 27th September 2022, three Constitution Benches in Courtroom Numbers 1, 2 and 3 of the Supreme Court sat simultaneously and their proceedings were live streamed through Supreme Court’s webcast as well as through YouTube. Currently, the online proceedings is not just limited to the apex court of the country but the high courts like Gujarat High Court, Jharkhand High Court, Karnataka High Court, Madhya Pradesh High Court, Orissa High Court and Patna High Court have also opted for the same. The whole world is taking a similar route , because now both developing and developed countries have understood that accessibility and transparency is the key to actual justice and improvement of  the society.

Currently the whole judiciary system is quite effervescent about the same and is planning to bring this facility for all high courts and lower courts like district courts.

It is also held that online proceeding is right to access the same under “Article 21” of the Constitution of India.


This kind of proceeding in which the trial is being recorded and can be used for future reference, is not new for the legal system of this country. There are many provisions and acts also denoting the same in one way or another. Sections like “Section 327 of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC)” and “Section 153-B of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC)” mentions and talks about open court hearings. But “Article 143” of the Indian Constitution does not denote the same. It states that whenever the President of the country feels that a question on fact or law has arisen or can arise which is of public importance, can consult to the Supreme Court of the country. And this report cannot be used or saved for the open court.


The explanation and elaboration of above mentioned Sections are as follows:-


  • Section 327 of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) :

It mentions that the criminal court should agree with the recording of the data of the proceedings and of the judgments until there is a concern of not recording something in favor of justice or well-being of the parties or the public. The court can deny for the storage at the time to protect the identity, the state in which the security of the nation is in question (to maintain the confidentiality) or at the time of public welfare.


  • Section 153-B of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC):

It is also similar to Sec 327 of CrPC, the only difference is that it is for civil suits and the former one done is for criminal proceedings. In this too the court should agree for the recording and making the data public, until and unless the same not to be done under some conditions.


Now there are cases in which the use of camera during trial is a compulsion in any situation but there are also some instances that the matters are excluded from the same. Such cases involve:

  • Matrimonial matters

  • Matters which involve interests of juveniles or the protection and safety of young lives.

  • Matters of national security

  • Identity or information about the victims if there is a fear of harm

  • Security of confidentiality 

As we know every situation has two sides, black and white similar to the two sides of a coin. The same is the case in this aspect too. The judiciary is trying its best for development by making the proceedings online but sowing the seeds of good, bad roots often find their way in to prove and realize both the situations.


The perks of the online proceedings and live streaming are as follows:

  • Transparency – It is the biggest and most important benefit of live proceedings. With this the public of the nation will believe more and rebuild their trust in the judiciary system, with the streaming of court sessions the general public will be aware of the proceedings in-between the four walls and are not left in the dark about topics that keep their best interests in the matter or anything regarding the welfare of the social ecosphere of the nation. 

  • Accessibility – Due to this the general public have a hand on the judgments decided and will be able to refer to them, at any point of time people can refer to the actual proceedings and not through 3rd party sources which are not accurate with the information they provide. 

  • Reliability- These proceedings are and will without any doubt be the most reliable and legit source one can refer to.

  • Interpretation – As the trials and proceedings are going to be stored in the form of video recordings, the same can help the general public in gathering their information and having a better understanding of the hearings due to audio visual aid. 


The downsides and the concerns regarding the live and online court proceedings are as follows:

  • As the proceedings are available and accessible to everyone, this might lead to the unauthorized reproduction of the clips which can be further used for illegal or hazardous activities against the nation. 

  • The clips of proceedings can be uploaded to different social media platforms and be taken out of context just to be beneficial for the person uploading them and not for the welfare of the general public. As with everything going on the internet, people do not shy from the practice of misleading people for their personal gain in mind.

  • With the accessibility given to the public, accessibility can be misused, the same was done last year in famous actress Juhi Chawla’s 5G hearing, the public who joined the session started opening their microphone and started interrupting the proceeding.


In conclusion what can be said is that as a concept, the live streaming of court hearings are beneficial to all parties involved in the idea. Even with the problems that concern this matter overall it can be said that the advantages regarding this overshadow the disadvantages handful as it is. This idea can further be improved in the coming years and be a foolproof concept. This is in an important step towards the world where digitalization is considered the norm, with every piece human development and social trends being uploaded constantly to the internet, it was inevitable that this particular decision were to come.


REFERENCES:-


1] Swapnil Tripathi v. Supreme Court of India, (2018) 10 SCC 639

2] Scott v. Scott, 1913 AC 417

4] Article 21 of Indian Constitution – Protection of life and personal liberty

5] Sec 327 of CrPC – Court to be open

6] Sec 153 – B of CPC – Place of trial to be deemed to be open court

7] Article 143 of Indian Constitution – Power of President to consult Supreme Court


This article is written by Mimuksha Darak of Symbiosis law school, Pune.

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