Hearing Of 'Live Streaming Of Cases' In SC : Who Said What?
As the writ petition filed by senior counsel Indira Jaising seeking live streaming of apex court proceedings came up for hearing before the Supreme Court on Friday, petitioner-in-person advocate Mathews J Nedumpara, having instituted a petition seeking identical relief, submitted that Jaising’s petition was mentioned even before filing ‘to garner publicity’.
To this, Jaising asked the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar: “Please protect me from being defamed in court.”
“There is absolute immunity in respect of judicial proceedings”, responded Nedumpara.
Proceeding to make her submissions, Jaising said, “I do not know who filed the petition first. Let me argue on the merits of my case.”
When Nedumpara refused to relent, Justice Chandrachud intervened, “All matters come on board. We have a matter filed by a law student coming on board. Please do not have this complex about her being a senior counsel.”
Finally, Nedumpara was permitted to make his argument first. He relied on the 1967 judgment in Naresh Shridhar Mirajkar v. State of Maharashtra, in so far as it was observed therein that what takes place in court is public and the publication of the proceedings merely enlarges the area of the court and gives to the trial that added publicity which is favoured by the rule that the trial should be open and public.
“This principle may not apply to your case. The public is anyway here. The press is also very much here,” remarked Justice Chandrachud.
When Nedumpara quoted the judgment further: “If the matter is already published in open court, it cannot be prevented from being published outside the court room provided the report is a verbatim or a fair account. Accurate publication of reports is insisted upon so that the proceedings are not misrepresented”, the Chief Justice intervened to say, “This is going against you.”
“No, video recordings come within its purview,” responded Nedumpara.
Continuing, he recited the observation relied upon in the 1967 judgment: “... publication is merely enlarging the area of the court, and communicating to all that which all had the right to know.”
Expressing his prayers, he advanced, “Please allow telecasting of the proceedings of this court so that people in the different parts of the country can know. Further, in the PILs at present, the public has no right of participation; the proceedings are carried behind their backs by the lawyers.”
In her turn, Jaising clarified, “I am not praying for recording of trial court proceedings. Many countries have even 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.”
Continuing, she submitted, “One argument 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. That issue can be tackling 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.
Differentiating the 2011 judgment of the Delhi High Court in Deepak Khosla v. UoI from the present petition, Jaising submitted, “In that case, the petitioner had sought to bring his own camera in court.”
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.