A Public interest Litigation has been filed by Journalists and Law Students seeking live streaming of court proceedings in all courts in the State of Uttar Pradesh including the High Court, Subordinate Courts and Tribunals.
The petition has been filed by legal journalists Areeb Uddin Ahmed and Sparsh Upadhyay along with three law students.
The plea states that it is extremely difficult for Journalists and Law Students to get access to court proceeding due to the virtual model of operation in courts due to the ongoing pandemic.
It was further stated that the live streaming of the proceeding will advance the open court principle by ensuring access to the judicial system. Absolute transparency is required to ensure the concept of trusteeship in the Indian Judiciary, according to the plea submitted.
The plea claimed that the fundamental right to freedom of the press calls for access to court proceedings and their reporting as they occur. Such real-time and up-to-date information is also needed in the exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
The petitioners have relied on the recent judgement of the Supreme Court to live-stream its proceeding in the larger public interest in Swapnil Tripathi v. Supreme Court of India. In its verdict, in the case, the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court observed that:
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant”
Recently the Chief Justice of India has also approved the setting up of a dedicated mobile application for live streaming of supreme court proceedings for access by media persons.
The High Courts of Kerala, Bombay, Gujarat and Madras has already begun live-streaming of proceedings.
The observation of the Supreme Court in the case by the Election Commission of India seeking restraint on media reporting of oral remarks of the court was also referred to in the plaint.
The plea prayed for directions from the court to ensure that a dedicated media room is set up in the court so that media persons and the public can access the proceedings. It was also prayed for using a single link for all video conferencing sessions of the court and the publication of the link in the court website along with the case list.
The plea also called for the setting up of a High-Powered Committee involving all the stakeholders to come up with an appropriate modality for live streaming of the court proceedings.