The High Court of Sikkim on Thursday refused to live stream the proceedings of the Nishan Sahib Case.
The order was passed in a petition seeking action against the State authorities who were alleged to have removed the holy Guru Granth Sahib Ji and to have uprooted Nishan Sahib from the Gurudwara at Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim by, in August 2017.
The application seeking live telecast of the proceedings on the court's website was filed by one Amritpal Singh Khalsa and Sri Guru Singh Sabha, a registered society. They also sought a copy of the audio-video recording of the proceedings for their record.
They submitted in view of the Supreme Court's ruling in Re: Swapnil Tripathy v. Supreme Court of India, (2018) 10 SCC 639, that the matter was of great public importance and that Sikhs all over the world were interested in the hearing of the writ petition.
The Supreme Court had decided therein that "Publication of Court proceedings of the Supreme Court is a facet of the status of the Supreme Court as a Court of record by virtue of Article 129 of the Constitution…live streaming of Court proceedings in the prescribed digital format would be an affirmation of the constitutional rights bestowed upon the public and the litigants in particular".
The Respondent State authorities contested the application stating that it was not maintainable in as much as the Registry or the Computer Cell of the Court had not been made a party. They also argued that the said Supreme Court ruling did not give an absolute right to seek live streaming of court proceedings, especially in the instant case, which had the potential to disrupt national security.
"Live streaming of court proceedings is recommended only as a pilot project for Court Room No.1 and only on Constitutional Bench references…in sensitive cases which have the tendency to provoke sentiments and arouse passion and enmity among communities, it is not advisable", they submitted.
Rejecting the application, Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan seconded the State's argument that while all the prayers had been sought against the Registry/Computer Cell of the Court, it had not been made a party to the proceedings. He also stated that the Applicant had not divulged any further about his knowledge that Sikhs all over the world were interested in hearing about the writ petition and had failed to show compelling public interest of the case to be live streamed immediately.
"…only a specified category of cases of constitutional and national importance being argued for final hearing before the Constitutional Bench was to be live streamed as a pilot project. Prior consent of all the parties to the proceedings was required to be insisted upon. The discretion by the Court was to be final, non-justiciable and non-appealable", he added.
The Petitioners were represented by Advocates Ritesh Khatri, Dr. Navin Barik, Sandeep Majumdar and Bhaskar Moitra and the Respondents were represented by Advocate General Vivek Kohli, and Additional Advocate General Dr. Doma T. Bhutia with Government Advocate Thupden Youngda, Assistant Government Advocate S.K. Chettri, Advocate for Forest Department Rita Sharma and Advocates Jorgay Namka and Tashi Doma Sherpa.
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