3 Jun 2021 11:30 AM GMT
The Allahabad High Court on Thursday observed that its administrative side is working on all aspects of live streaming and live reporting of Court proceedings, for wider public access. "No one is disputing your right. They're working on all the aspects of the matter, we have to give them some time," a Division Bench of Justices Pankaj Naqvi and Jayant Banerji said while...
The Allahabad High Court on Thursday observed that its administrative side is working on all aspects of live streaming and live reporting of Court proceedings, for wider public access.
"No one is disputing your right. They're working on all the aspects of the matter, we have to give them some time," a Division Bench of Justices Pankaj Naqvi and Jayant Banerji said while adjourning the matter for six weeks.
Significantly, the Court opined that there is no need to pass any interim order in the matter. When the Petitioner's counsel Shashwat Anand urged the Court to direct that no coercive action shall be taken against the media persons in case they live report the court proceedings, the Bench responded,
"Who is preventing you?"
During the hearing, Standing Counsel Ashish Mishra, appearing for the High Court, informed the Bench that guidelines for Live Streaming have been received by the Chief Justice of the High Court from the Chairman of the E-Committee of the Supreme Court and suggestions have been invited.
He therefore sought time to finalize the recommendations and sought for adjournment.
Advocate Anand submitted that the administration is working on the Live Streaming aspect, but the Petitioners' primary concern is Live Reporting. "Live Reporting must be allowed," he urged.
In this regard he referred to the case of Swapnil Tripathi & Ors. v. Supreme Court of India & Ors. whereby the Top Court had decided to live-stream Court proceedings in the larger public interest. "Sunlight is the best disinfectant", a five-Judge Bench had observed.
Reliance was also placed on case of Chief Election Commissioner v. MR Vijayabhaskar where it was held that Freedom of speech and expression extends to reporting proceedings in judicial institutions as well. He submitted that the Supreme Court has also launched a facility in its mobile app for providing links to virtual hearings to media persons.
Responding to this, Mishra submitted that the administration is in the process of switching from Jitsi Meet App to some other commercial platform, which will address all the concerns as raised in this petition.
The development comes in a PIL filed by legal journalists Areeb Uddin Ahmed (Bar & Bench) and Sparsh Upadhyay (LiveLaw) along with three law students, seeking public access to virtual courts.
"The concept of justice, in its truest sense, would only be realized in an environment of absolute transparency (barring a few exceptional cases) in the affairs of the Indian Judiciary," the Petitioners said in their petition.
They seek establishment of dedicated Media Rooms within Court premises and sharing of VC links with journalists.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court is also seized with a similar case. Read more here and here.
Petitioners are also represented by Advocates Ankur Azad, Ashutosh Mani Tripathi and Syed Ahmed Faizan.
Case Title: Areeb Uddin Ahmed & Ors. v. Allahabad High Court & Ors.