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Legal Journalists & Law Students Move Allahabad High Court Seeking Live Streaming/ Live Reporting Of Court Proceedings

Akshita Saxena
16 May 2021 11:57 AM GMT
Legal Journalists & Law Students Move Allahabad High Court Seeking Live Streaming/ Live Reporting Of Court Proceedings
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A PIL has been filed before the Allahabad High Court seeking permission for Live-streaming and Live-reporting of Court proceedings across the State of Uttar Pradesh, including the High Courts, Subordinate Courts and Tribunals."The fundamental right to Freedom of the Press, of the petitioners – as journalists/ mediapersons – is well-settled in the day to gain access to VC...

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A PIL has been filed before the Allahabad High Court seeking permission for Live-streaming and Live-reporting of Court proceedings across the State of Uttar Pradesh, including the High Courts, Subordinate Courts and Tribunals.

"The fundamental right to Freedom of the Press, of the petitioners – as journalists/ mediapersons – is well-settled in the day to gain access to VC or physical hearings and report the same as they occur, as the same is an implicit aspect of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution," the petition states.

The petition has been filed by legal journalists Areeb Uddin Ahmed and Sparsh Upadhyay along with three law students, stating that access to Court proceedings has been extremely restricted for legal journalists and law students due to virtual hearings being conducted amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is stated that live-streaming and live-reporting of Court proceedings will restore such access and harmonize VC hearings with the 'Open Justice' principle.

"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 plea states.

The Petitioners have relied on the case of Swapnil Tripathi & Ors. v. Supreme Court of India & Ors., whereby the Supreme Court had decided to live-stream Court proceedings in the larger public interest.

"Sunlight is the best disinfectant", a five-Judge Bench had observed.

Pursuant to this judgment, it is pointed out, the High Courts of Kerala, Bombay, Gujarat and Madras have also adopted 'live-streaming' of Court proceedings.

The petition also refers to a recent decision of the Supreme Court, dismissing Election Commission's plea to restrain media from reporting the oral remarks of judges.

Freedom Of Speech & Expression Extends To Reporting Judicial Proceedings: Supreme Court Rejects ECI Prayer To Stop Media Reporting Of Oral Remarks

Thus, the Petitioners have urged the Allahabad High Court to:

  • Issue directions for establishment of dedicated Media Rooms within Court premises, equipped with necessary technological and infrastructural facilities, to ensure that all persons including journalists are able to view the VC/ physical proceedings;
  • Ensure that there is a single VC link for the entire Causelist, as is being done by the Supreme Court, and the High Courts of Bombay, Madras and Kerala;
  • Direct that public, including Journalists, may be allowed to freely access Virtual Courts through the VC links, which may be published on the High Court website or along with the Causelist of each day;
  • VC links for the hearings of each day be sent via SMS/ Email/ Whatsapp to the journalists registered as legal correspondents with the High Court.

It is submitted that a High-Powered Committee, headed by a sitting or retired High Court Judge and comprising of all relevant stakeholders and a panel of Experts may be constituted, to work out and provide for the appropriate modalities for Live Streaming of Court proceedings and to facilitate easy access of Journalists, desirably within 4 weeks.

The petition is filed though Advocates Shashwat Anand, Ashutosh Mani Tripathi, Syed Ahmad Faizan, and Ankur Azad.

The Supreme Court on Thursday launched a facility in its mobile app for providing links to virtual hearings to media persons.

The CJI said that he is actively considering live streaming of proceedings for some Courts, but would seek consensus from all Judges before launching the same.


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