SC’s e-committee releases draft rules for live-streaming of court proceedings; invites inputs from stakeholders

THE Supreme Court’s e-committee has released the Draft Model Rules for Live-Streaming and Recording of Court Proceedings and has invited inputs and suggestions from all stakeholders. Suggestions and inputs on the Draft Model Rules for Live-Streaming and Recording of Court Proceedings can be sent to the following email ID [email protected]  on or before 30.06.2021.

The draft rules provide for the live streaming of all proceedings by the court subject to exclusions. The “Court” means the High Court of Judicature and/or all the courts and tribunals under its supervision under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.

The following will be excluded from live-streaming:

  • Matrimonial matters, including transfer petitions arising thereunder.
  • Cases concerning sexual offences, including proceedings instituted under Section 376, Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).
  • Cases concerning gender-based violence against women.
  • Matters registered under or involving the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) and under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
  • In-camera proceedings as defined under Section 327 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) or Section 153 B of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC).
  • Matters where the Bench is of the view, for reasons to be recorded in writing that publication would be antithetical to the administration of justice.
  • Cases, which in the opinion of the Bench, may provoke enmity amongst communities likely to result in a breach of law and order.
  • Recording of evidence, including cross-examination.
  • Privileged communications between the parties and their advocates; cases where a claim of privilege is accepted by the Court; and non-public discussions between advocates.
  • Any other matter in which a specific direction is issued by the Bench or the Chief Justice.

Live-streaming in certain cases may be restricted to final arguments, the draft rules say.

The Court Master/Reader, the draft rules, states will duly inform the parties before the commencement of the proceedings that they will be live-streamed and that objections, if any, should be articulated at that juncture to the concerned bench.

Objections, if any, to live-streaming may be raised at the time of instituting the case or any later stage. The final decision will lie with the bench.

Though the final decision to livestream will be with the bench, it will be guided by the principle of an open and transparent judicial process. The decision of the bench shall not be justiciable.

In cases where the proceedings are not live-streamed, the recording shall be maintained for usage by the court and the appellate court(s), subject to the following:

  • Access to the Recording of the testimony of witnesses will not be given until such time that the evidence is recorded in its entirety.
  • Transcription of the Recordings would be made available to the advocate or litigant-in-person.
  • In case of litigant-in-person, who is also a witness in the matter, the Bench in its discretion will decide as to the stage at which the litigant-in-person should have access to the Recordings of the testimonies concerning the other witnesses in the matter.

The recordings will be archived.

The recordings may be uploaded, wholly or in part, on the courts’ website or made available on other digital platforms, as directed by the court.

No person or entity (including print and electronic media, and social media platforms) other than an authorised person or entity will be allowed to record, share or disseminate live-streamed proceedings or archival data.

This provision will also apply to all messaging applications. Any person or entity acting contrary to this provision will be prosecuted as per the law.

The court will have the exclusive copyright in the recordings and archival data. Any unauthorised usage of the live-stream will be punishable as an offence under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, Information Technology Act, 2000, and other provisions of law, including the law of contempt.

Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, who is the Chairperson of the e-Committee, has written a letter to all chief justices of the high courts calling for inputs and suggestions on the draft rules.

In the letter, Justice Chandrachud has said that the right to access justice, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution encompasses the right to access live court proceedings.

“To imbue greater transparency, inclusivity and foster access to justice, the e-Committee has undertaken the project of live streaming of court proceedings on priority. This will enable access to live court proceedings, including on matters of public interest to citizens, journalists, civil society, academicians and law students on a real time basis, which was not otherwise possible owing to geographical, logistical or infrastructural issues”, he said.

In 2018, the Supreme Court allowed the live streaming of the cases of national importance on a plea filed by senior advocate Indira Jaising. The court had said, “live streaming of Supreme Court proceedings at least in respect to cases of Constitutional and national importance, having an impact on the public at large or on a large number of people in India, maybe a good beginning”. These directions are yet to be given effect by the Supreme Court.

Click here to read the draft Rules

The Leaflet