SC seeks AG’s opinion on a plea to live-stream Constitution Bench proceedings

On Friday (9th February) the writ petition seeking live streaming of apex court proceedings came up for hearing before the Supreme Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar. Senior advocate Indira Jaising who had filed this public interest petition in January seeking transparency of court proceedings and access to public to issues of national interest, made her submissions before the court.

A similar petition was filed by petitioner-in-person advocate Mathews J Nedumpara seeking identical relief. Both petitioners made submissions before the Court.

Ms. Jaising submitted that she was not praying for recording of trial court proceedings, stating that several countries banned that so as to not endanger the witnesses. “The relief sought by me is only in respect of matters of national importance before the Supreme Court. And by national importance, I am implying the matters that have been referred to the Constitutional bench; not even the miscellaneous matters on Mondays and Fridays. Several significant matters such as the Aadhaar, Golrookh Gupta, Section 377 of the IPC, adultery etc., are being heard by the Constitution bench.”

She apprised the Court of an argument used against the video recording of court proceedings is that every word uttered by the bar or the bench cannot be made available in public domain. She submitted that it was an issue that could be tackled by permitting editing. “Different constitutional courts deal with the issue differently – like the International Court of Justice permits video recordings to be published only 30 minutes after the arguments; while some courts do it simultaneously.”

There have been judgments of the Delhi and Bombay high courts. The Supreme Court has passed orders that the proceedings may be recorded but not published and that the transcripts of the arguments may be made available without the visuals,” she added.

The bench on Friday permitted the aforesaid two petitioners-in-person and another petitioner to serve a copy of their petitions on the central agency. The bench stated that this would enable Attorney General KK Venugopal to help the court in the matter. The Central Agency conducts litigation on behalf of ministries and departments of the Central government in the top court.

The Supreme Court set the next hearing on the matter for two weeks from February 9.

Read the order here.