Updated: May 14, 2021 1:25:17 am
Chief Justice of India N V Ramana Thursday said he is “actively considering the proposal to telecast live the proceedings of the Supreme Court”, but “before initiating concrete steps in this regard”, he plans “to seek general consensus among… colleagues in the court”.
Speaking at the launch of a mobile application that would enable reporters to access virtual court proceedings, the CJI pointed out that transparency is a time-honored principle when it comes to the country’s judicial process and it’s important for the public to be able to access court proceedings since the ruling of the court has a bearing on the lives of people and the media’s role assumes importance in the process of disseminating information.
In a September 2018 judgment, a three-judge bench headed by then CJI Dipak Misra had given its nod to live stream court proceedings, saying this will bring more accountability and enhance the rule of law.
Saying “sunlight is the best disinfectant”, it ordered that the project “must be implemented in a progressive, structured and phased manner, with certain safeguards to ensure that the purpose of live-streaming of proceedings is achieved holistically and that it does not interfere with the administration of justice or the dignity and majesty of the court hearing the matter and/or impinge upon any rights of the litigants or witnesses”.
On Thursday, CJI Ramana went on to point out how “the pandemic has affected everyone”, including the judiciary.
“The first employee of the Supreme Court Registry was reported Covid positive on April 27, 2020. Till date, approximately 800 Registry staff have tested positive. Six of our Registrars and 10 Additional Registrars have tested positive at different times. Unfortunately, we lost three of our officials to Covid,” he said.
He pointed out that as per data available, 2,768 judicial officers across the country and 106 High Court judges have tested positive. Data from two High Courts is yet to be received, he said, adding that “34 Judicial Officers and three Hon’ble Judges of the HIgh Court have lost their life, battling this pandemic”.
Following the pandemic, the judicial system has had to adapt quickly, the CJI said, talking about how cases began to be heard through video conferencing.
This also created problems for the media to access the courts and some provision was made to allow reporters to watch proceedings at specific locations. However, this also faced certain difficulties, the CJI said, adding he received several requests to make changes to the system.
The CJI said he then took it up with the SC e-Committee and other court officials who then came up with the new app which will allow reporters to watch the proceedings on their mobile phones.
He also announced the introduction of a new feature on the SC’s official website and mobile application. The feature, ‘Indicative Notes’, is aimed at providing concise summaries of landmark judgments in an easy-to-understand format, the CJI said, adding, “this will serve as a useful resource for media persons and the general public who wish to be better informed about the rulings of the Court”. He recalled that this was initiated by his predecessor CJI S A Bobde. The application currently works only on Android phones.
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