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Freedom To Report Court Hearings: Citing Supreme Court's Recent Judgment, Plea Filed In Gujarat HC Seeking E-Access To Media

Sparsh Upadhyay
8 May 2021 8:51 AM GMT
Freedom To Report Court Hearings: Citing Supreme Courts Recent Judgment, Plea Filed In Gujarat HC Seeking E-Access To Media
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In view of the Supreme Court recent Judgment [Election Commission of India v. MR Vijaya Bhaskar LL 2021 SC 244] upholding the freedom of media to report the oral observations and discussions made by judges and lawyers during a court proceeding, an application has been moved before the Gujarat HC seeking e-access to media. The application has been filed by Advocate Amit Manibhai...

In view of the Supreme Court recent Judgment [Election Commission of India v. MR Vijaya Bhaskar LL 2021 SC 244] upholding the freedom of media to report the oral observations and discussions made by judges and lawyers during a court proceeding, an application has been moved before the Gujarat HC seeking e-access to media.

The application has been filed by Advocate Amit Manibhai Panchal in an ongoing matter before the Gujarat High Court related to COVID management in the State of Gujarat [Suo Motu Writ Petition (PIL) No. 53 of 2021].

The Gujarat High Court, had, on April 12, 2021, directed the registry to register a suo motu fresh Public Interest Litigation titled "In Re : Uncontrolled upsurge and serious management issues in COVID Control."

Importantly, the application states,

"Court Proceedings when reported correctly on time with the court links made available to the members of the print and electronic media, for reporting the cases on a day-to-day basis, the same would result in bringing the said aspects to the notice of the General Public in these difficult times of the COVID – 19 Pandemic"

In this backdrop, the application has referred to the Supreme Court of India's recent Judgement, which pertains to the Freedom of Press, and wherein the Supreme Court of India has held that it would be retrograde for the Court to gag reporting of proceedings and thereby uphold Constitutional ethos.

'Citizens Have Right To Know What Transpires In Judicial Proceedings': Supreme Court Upholds Media's Freedom To Report Court Hearings

The Applicant has also highlighted that the Supreme Court of India had, in its Judgment, observed that the High Court of Gujarat was on par with International Courts, which was certainly a proud moment.

Significantly, the Supreme Court had said,

"Courts in many foreign countries are live-streaming their proceedings. Even the Gujarat High Court has started to live-stream its hearing in YouTube"

Unless Live-streaming Sees Light Of The Day, Absence Of Records Of Oral Proceedings Would Continue To Bedevil The System: Supreme Court

The Applicant has further submitted that it had been held by the Supreme Court of India that Freedom of Speech and Expression covers freedom to cover court proceedings too.

It is also pertinent to note that the Supreme Court of India has, in principle, taken a decision to provide the links for the Supreme Court Hearings to all reporters covering the Supreme Court of India.

The application requests the Court to direct the Registry to provide Court Video Conferencing Links to the Press Media immediately, to enable them to report the Court proceedings, on the Court Video Conferencing Links being provided to them.

Significantly, the application has averred,

"If the Court Video Conferencing Links are provided to the Press Media at the earliest, it would also be a step towards encouraging the Freedom of Press and would not amount to gagging reporting of Court proceedings, and thereby it would be possible to uphold the Constitutional ethos".
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