Nothing wrong in transparency: SC judge wants hearings live-streamed
Supreme Court Justice Abhay Sreeniwas Oka has reportedly expressed support for the live-streaming of court hearings. "Let us have transparency. Nothing wrong in transparency," Justice Oka said. He was delivering a lecture on the "Importance of Ethics in Legal Profession" at the Bombay High Court on Saturday, according to LiveLaw. The event had been organized by the Advocates Association of Western India.
Why does it matter?
- Back in 2018, the SC had given an in-principle nod to the live-streaming of court hearings in Swapnil Tripathi vs. Supreme Court of India.
- However, modalities for the same are yet to be defined and the process awaits implementation.
- Justice Oka explained the push for live-streaming court proceedings by noting that parliamentary proceedings are already live-streamed in India.
'High-time we start live-streaming'
"This is my personal view and not the view of the institution of the judiciary," Justice Oka clarified, "...It is high time that, at least in selected cases, we should start live-streaming. "This would help the public understand how lawyers argue and how proceedings are conducted. The chairperson of the SC's e-Committee, Justice DY Chandrachud, also agrees on calls for more transparency, he said.
Limitations of live-streaming
Justice Oka acknowledged the limitations of live-streaming. "We have small courtrooms. So some constraints will be there," he said, adding that the viewership may dwindle over time. The bar and the bench will have to establish a code of ethics before live-streaming, he added.
Not a first for Indian courts
As the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, Justice Oka had launched the live-streaming of sessions for Court Number 1 in public interest lawsuit cases. The move was met with skepticism by several top lawyers and judges. Lawyers were concerned that making reasonable concessions in front of the court would become difficult. Yet, Justice Oka favors live-streaming in the spirit of transparency.
Earlier, common people attended PIL hearings
Justice Oka recalled that common people used to attend court hearings in the Bombay High Court's PIL bench "out of curiosity." "In those days Bar & Bench and LiveLaw were not there," said Justice Oka, referring to two legal news portals. He also recalled that many attended hearings in the Telgi stamp paper scam case.