Calcutta High Court allows recording of court proceedings

The order clarified that the recording would be for the purpose of assistance of the court, and such recording shall not be made available to any party or outsider unless otherwise directed by it.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: July 19, 2015 8:15 am
calcutta high court, high court, calcutta court, court proceeding, court proceeding recording, calcutta high court proceeding recording, cji, chief justice of india, india news, calcutta news, kolkata news The proceedings on July 15 were recorded for nearly 45 minutes.

In a first, the Calcutta High Court has recorded court room proceedings, setting a precedent in the country where even the top court has been reluctant to permit cameras and microphones inside court halls.

On a directive by Justice Aniruddha Bose, the Calcutta High Court registry made all arrangements and installed a video camera and a microphone inside court hall number 24. The proceedings on July 15 were recorded for nearly 45 minutes.

Justice Bose’s direction came on persistent pleas by advocate Deepak Khosla. He had been trying to convince the judge for long to order video recording so that there is incontrovertible evidence of conduct of the counsel on the other side.

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According to Khosla, he was being subjected to constant heckling and abuses inside the court room and recording could prevent diminution of the standing and authority of the court.

Acceding to his request on a day when the altercation between Khosla and the counsel on the other side reached a flashpoint, Justice Bose summoned registry officials and directed them to take approval from the administrative judge for setting up a camera and a microphone inside the court hall.

The July 15 order by Justice Bose stated that he was allowing Khosla’s request for video recording of the proceedings since there was no objection from advocates appearing for different parties in the civil case.

Mindful of the fact that neither the Supreme Court nor any other high court had framed any rule for such recording, Justice Bose added a caveat that “the proceedings being recorded today shall not form part of the official records of this court”.

The order clarified that the recording would be for the purpose of assistance of the court, and such recording shall not be made available to any party or outsider unless otherwise directed by it.

Justice Bose also added that the “court shall have the power and authority to make necessary editing of the recorded version, removing any part there from which this court considers it necessary to avoid any scandalous or undesirable or irrelevant matter to remain on record”.

As recently as January, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu had dismissed a PIL which asked for installation of cameras inside the court halls of the top court.

The CJI had then remarked: “You want to put CCTV in the court? Right now whatever we discuss in the innermost chamber is also out there in the public. What we discuss among judges in the collegium meetings are also out in public. There is no need for CCTV.”

A similar prayer by Mumbai-based advocate Mathews Nedumpara was not entertained by a Constitution Bench which on Wednesday concluded hearing in the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) case. Pointing out that the NJAC case was being keenly followed by a large section of lawyers as well as the public, Nedumpara had requested the bench to allow video recording so that this could be telecast.

In February 2014, the Advisory Council of the National Committee for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms, headed by then Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal, made a recommendation for video recording of court proceedings and the judiciary’s views were sought. The proposal has been in cold storage ever since.

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    Bharathi Balasubramanian
    Jul 19, 2015 at 8:21 am
    I myself filed a PIL in Madras High court for recording court proceedings but it was dismissed without valid reason. All courts are court of records and recording is a must. The copy of the recording should made available to the parties concerned. It is followed in uk and usa.
    Reply
  2. B
    Bharathi Balasubramanian
    Jul 22, 2015 at 2:22 pm
    We welcome transparency in court proceedings. It exposes legal and judicial corruption. Improve the quality of court proceedings.
    Reply
  3. A
    Ajay Kumar De
    Jul 19, 2015 at 10:37 am
    During hearing of a writ peion with allegations of fraud and misappropriation of huge public money perpetrated even jointly by highly placed of Reserve Bank of India's Kolkata regional Office, Hon'ble High Court : Calcutta observed and ped several comments against the offenders in open court. But the Hon'ble Court reversed more than 180 degree while ping the order. A video recording can in such cases send the Hon'ble Justice also straight to gallows. But if this is not taken as court records, what purpose the exercise can serve.
    Reply
  4. G
    Ganesh Bangalore
    Jul 19, 2015 at 9:11 pm
    19-7-2015 Our is a modern country a republic. There should be honesty and transparency in all doings and not frauds. The judges are also expected to be honest and transparency in their dealings and they should be role models. Because of secrecy Karanataka Lokayukta has managed his son to use his office for making money and some politicians appear to be protecting. B S GANESH Bangalore
    Reply
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    Dr.Adarsh Kapoor,
    Jul 20, 2015 at 7:42 pm
    Kudos to Advocate Deepak Khosla whose incessant struggle has borne fruits at least in one High Court. The Supreme Court and other High Courts who are currently reluctant to allow litigants to unobtrusively audio-video record court proceedings are completely oblivious of the fact that a litigant is not dependent on judge's whim or permission to unobtrusively audio-video record court proceedings because a litigant has got an inherent right to unobtrusively audio-video record court proceedings in India under the English Common Law which lays down that any activity is deemed to be permitted unless prohibited by law and I not only challenge each and every Indian judge to show me a law which bars unobtrusively audio-video recording court proceedings but also Hon'ble Justice Dhingra of Delhi High Court has categorically stated in one of Mr.Deepak Khosla's case that in India there is no law which bars unobtrusively audio-video recording court proceedings. It is only the guilty who is afraid of being recorded. The unobtrusive audio-video recording of court proceedings arms a litigant with incontrovertible proof to not only fight judicial terrorism inflicted by a judge in his/her court room but also creates a cogent proof of any illegality committed by anyone in a court room. I have been unobtrusively audio-video recording court proceedings in India for about 450 times during the last 30 years without the knowledge of respective judges and can safely ure that 60% of judges would become liable for prosecution under section 219 of the IPC for illegalities committed by them. However, they remain out of clutches of Section 219 of the IPC because litigants have no cogent proofs of those illegalities committed by judges. The current atmosphere in India is such that every body is presumed to be innocent until caught on camera or audio device (sting operation) which explains the absolute necessity for unobtrusively audio-video recording of court proceedings because otherwise who else will keep a check on those judges who do not hesitate to inflict judicial terrorism on litigants and undoubtedly it is the unobtrusively audio-video recording of court proceedings which will act as a deterrent for those judges who have a a strong propensity to display their tyranny inside their court rooms. I had sent a legal notice u/s 80 CPC to the Registrars of the Supreme Court , Delhi High Court and Delhi District & Sessions Court in 2011 to file a law suit for a declaration that a litigant has inherent right to unobtrusively audio-video record court proceeding. None of those Registrars could gather courage to send any reply to my said notices which eventually culminated into a civil suit led Dr. Adarsh Kapoor Vs. Supreme Court of India & others filed in Patiala House Court. The Civil Judge and the Additional District Judge refused to even send summons to the defendants saying in the open court that, " they (the civil judge and the Additional District Judge ) were small fishes in the Indian judicial pond and hence could not incur judicial wrath by issuing summons to their bosses i.e. the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court." I was accordingly constrained to file in Delhi High Court an RSA No.55/2013 and instead of sending summons to the Supreme Court etc., the Delhi High Court preferred to indefinitely sit over the said RSA by adjourning it sine die saying in the open court that, " the time is not yet ripe to subject judges to unobtrusively audio-video recording of court proceeding." However, while adjourning the said RSA sine die, Delhi High Court categorically agreed with me that the courts, in theory, could not legally prevent me from unobtrusive audio-video recording of court proceeding by giving the example that just like a Court could not prevent a litigant from bringing his/her own professional stenographers to record each and every word spoken in a court, how can it prevent a litigant from unobtrusively audio-video recording of a court proceedings because unobtrusive audio-video recording is nothing more than an electronic stenographer and hence the judges should not be afraid of it. Still, Delhi High Court preferred to adjourn the said RSA sine die by making the final observation that the time is not yet ripe for the m unobtrusive audio-video recording of court proceedings and I respectfully want to ask Indian Courts,"If Indian judges are not afraid of unobtrusive audio-video recording of their court proceedings, then why the time is not now ripe to let litigants exercise their inherent right to use an electronic stenographer in courts to accurately preserve each and every word spoken by anyone in a court of law and while the audio-video recordings are the most favourite tools for courts to solve and punish for crimes, then why are Indian courts themselves afraid of audio-video recording of their own words spoken in an open court? Can Indian Courts provide an answer?
    Reply
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    PS Rao
    Jul 19, 2015 at 6:28 pm
    we cant expect judiciery and parliament to be over transparent....enough is enough..democracy is best when dictated....2 rs rice kg, free plot house ,sugar kirosene,health card, no income tax for all,or many,..so be happy guys...whatever judiciery gives is justice.
    Reply
  7. S
    Subramanian Venkatraman
    Jul 19, 2015 at 10:45 am
    Who said judges are not above law? Why fear recording if there is no hanky panky going on in courts and rules are not followed in its proceedings?
    Reply
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