The Supreme Court of India has decided to launch an exclusive platform to livestream court proceedings, which will address privacy and data security concerns that arise with streaming judicial hearings on a public platform.
The Supreme Court’s e-Committee is developing a plan to build a dedicated platform for live-streaming court proceedings.
This is the third phase of the ongoing e-courts project, which is an ambitious effort to integrate information and technology into India’s judiciary.
Six high courts in India – Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Patna, and Madhya Pradesh — currently have their own YouTube channels where they live stream their sessions. The Supreme Court’s e-model Committee’s rules, a series of orders aimed at controlling live streaming of court proceedings in India, are used to livestream these hearings.
In June 2021, the guidelines were distributed to stakeholders for feedback, including high courts and the NITI Aayog, India’s premier public policy think tank.
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The development comes more than three years after the Supreme Court initially suggested live streaming its hearings — on September 26, 2018, a Bench led by then-CJI proclaimed live telecast of court proceedings to be part of the right to access justice under Article 21 of the Constitution (pdf below).
According to a source close to the e-courts project, the SC e-Committee considered creating its own platform after seeing the strong response to the other high courts’ YouTube channels.
The officer stated that once this platform is operational, the high courts that already have their own channels will migrate over as well. “The e-Committee is devoted to the cause of transparency in judicial process and an exclusive platform to live stream court hearings is an effort towards achieving this objective,” the official stated.
Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, a sitting Supreme Court justice, leads the Supreme Court’s e-Committee.
According to another source, having such a platform will solve privacy and data security concerns that arise with streaming judicial hearings on a public platform.
“The social media platform in use right now is a public one and concerns have been raised regarding privacy of proceedings as well as the data that is now shared online. It was, therefore, felt that it would be better to have an exclusive channel that can become an alternative platform to telecast live court proceedings,” the official said.
High courts would not be required to stream court proceedings live, according to the source. Meanwhile, the e-courts committee is finalizing the model live-streaming guidelines, according to the official.
“We have received an overwhelming response to our draft rules and the committee is finalising them so that they can be adopted by the HCs that want to go ahead with live streaming,” the first officer said.
Based on these ideas, each high court could develop its own set of rules. According to the source, the six high courts that already have their own live streams would have to change their policies to comply with the requirements.
The development is especially relevant in light of how the Covid epidemic compelled courts to resort to virtual hearings.
Read the court case below: