ON April 24, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) passed a resolution urging the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and other judges of the Supreme Court that the video conferencing must be limited to the time period of the present crisis, and video conferencing should not become “New Normal” and should not replace the “Open Court Hearings”.
The Resolution further said that even while video conferencing remains in use during the present crisis and lockdown, live streaming of Supreme Court hearing ought to be introduced so that video-conferenced hearings are conducted, as far as possible.
The Resolution noted the need for open trials as an instrument of fairness, objectivity impartiality and administration of justice. Describing the same, the resolution relied upon a nine-judge bench verdict in Naresh Shridhar Mirajkar v. State of Maharashtra.
The resolution also made reference to the Supreme Court’s decision in Swapnil Tripathi vs. Secretary General Supreme Court of India also known as Indira Jaising v. Secretary General Supreme Court of India (live streaming case) wherein the apex court had allowed live streaming of cases and asked for framing of guidelines to put in place the live streaming mechanism. In this case, the court had noted that the live streaming of cases would be an extension of the very idea of an open court. Live to stream of the proceedings, the judgement observed, is crucial for the dissemination of knowledge about judicial proceedings and granting full access to justice to the litigant.
In view of these judgements, the SCBA stated in the resolution that once the current lockdown is lifted and the health situation permits, open court proceedings shall be restored without delay. The resolution strongly mentioned that proceedings through video conferencing were only a temporary measure and in no way shall become the new normal.
“Hence, as soon as the circumstances permit, open court proceedings shall be restored in the Supreme Court of India. The Court shall mandatorily maintain social distancing and crowd management measures within the Court premises. Simultaneously, live streaming and daily transcription of Court processes may continue”, the resolution said.
The Resolution noted that the advancement in technology and science should be utilized and incorporated even within the procedures of the Court.
This Resolution stands as an important step towards ensuring transparency of the judiciary and complete access to justice and court procedure to every single person within the society.
Read the Resolution here: Supreme Court Bar Association’s Resolution
Read the judgement on live streaming here: Swapnil Tripathi v Secretary-General Supreme Court of India