SC panel releases draft rules for livestreaming court proceedings

Taking a step closer to live-telecasting of court proceedings, the e-committee of the Supreme Court headed by Justice DY Chandrachud Monday released draft model rules and invited suggestions from stakeholders.

According to the draft rules, all proceedings in high courts can be telecast except for cases relating to matrimonial disputes, gender-based violence, those involving minors and “cases, which in the opinion of the Bench, may provoke enmity amongst communities likely to result in a breach of law and order”.

“The final decision as to whether or not to allow the Live-streaming of the Proceedings or any portion thereof will be of the Bench, however, the decision of the Bench will be guided by the principle of an open and transparent judicial process. The decision of the Bench shall not be justiciable,” the model rules state. The rules also allow for objections to be filed against livestreaming in specific cases at the stage of filing of the case or at a later stage.

With at least five cameras in courts that will be positioned at different angles, a dedicated control room and a viewing area to avoid overcrowding of courts, the draft rules allow for archiving of court proceedings for six months. However, discussion amongst judges, notes made by judges during hearings or communication between the advocate and her client will neither be telecast live nor archived, the rules said.

The rules also prohibit recording or sharing the telecast on media platforms, including social media and messaging platforms, unless authorised by the court.

“The use of authorised recordings in their original form may be permitted by the court, inter-alia to disseminate news and for training, academic and educational purposes. Authorised recordings handed over for the aforesaid purposes shall not be further edited or processed. Such Recordings will not be used for commercial, promotional purposes or advertising in any form.

The draft model rules were finalised last month after a sub-committee comprising of judges from Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Karnataka High Courts held extensive deliberations. Last week, Karnataka High Court became the second high court in the country after the Gujarat HC to livestream its proceedings on YouTube. Two petitions seeking live-streaming of court proceedings are currently being heard in the Allahabad High Court and the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

“To imbue greater transparency, inclusivity and foster access to justice, the e-Committee has undertaken the project of live streaming of court proceedings on priority,” said a statement by the Ministry of Law and Justice.

The e-Committee of the Supreme Court, along with the Centre’s Department of Justice, is working under the National Policy and Action Plan for the implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian judiciary.

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