Considering proposal on live telecast of Supreme Court proceedings: CJI Ramana

Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana on Thursday said that he is actively considering the proposal to telecast live the proceedings of the Supreme Court.

“I am also actively considering the proposal to live telecast the proceedings of the Supreme Court. However, before initiating concrete steps in this regard, I plan to seek general consensus among my colleagues in the Court,” the Chief Justice said. In 2018, the apex court ordered live-streaming of Supreme Court proceedings saying it will increase the transparency of judicial proceedings, however, the necessary amendments to the Supreme Court rules have not yet been made to frame the modalities of the process.

Chief Justice Ramana was speaking at the launch of the mobile application which will enable journalists to report virtual proceedings without having to visit court premises during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the judiciary, judges and court staff have been impacted both physically and psychologically by the Covid-19 situation.

“This pandemic has affected everyone,” the CJI said and added that to date, approximately 800 Registry staff have tested positive and the Top Court has lost three of its officials to COVID19 infection.
“So far as the Indian judiciary is concerned, as per the data available, 2768 judicial officers and 106 Judges of the High Court have tested positive. We are yet to receive the data from two major High Courts. 34 Judicial Officers and three Judges of the High Court have lost their life, battling this pandemic,” the Chief Justice said.

“My heart goes out to the families and the loved ones of those whose life has been cut short by this pandemic. Everyone has been deeply affected by this pandemic, including my brother and sister Judges in the Supreme Court. The Secretary General, the Registrars, most of the staff of the Supreme Court and their families have suffered. Apart from the physical impact of this pandemic, the psychological and mental strain has been terrible. Despite this demoralizing and fear inducing environment, everyone is rendering service to their best capacity, to ensure that justice continues to be rendered,” he added.

Reminiscing his days as a journalist, CJI Ramana said the media faces great challenges in reporting and that he came to know that journalists covering Top Court were depending on advocates to get links to cover court proceedings.
“I was a journalist for a brief time. At that time we did not have cars or bikes. We used to travel in a bus as we were directed not to avail conveyance of organisers of the event,” he said.

He also spoke about the importance of transparency and public access in judicial proceedings. “Transparency is a time-honoured principle when it comes to the judicial process in our country. Hearing of cases have always taken place in public courtrooms, with access being allowed not only to the lawyers and the litigants in a particular case but also to the general public. The only restrictions that were ever imposed earlier were because of space and security considerations,” the CJI said.

“This access to the public is important, as the rulings of the Courts of law, and more particularly the Supreme Court, have a bearing on the lives of people throughout this country. The role of the media assumes importance in the process of disseminating information,” he added.

Launching the special facility for granting access to media on the Supreme Court application, CJI Ramana said he expects the media to use these resources responsibly to disseminate information to the general public for the welfare of society.

While concluding, he wished media persons good health and asked them to stay safe and continue to follow all the Covid protocols. There was a request to create a mechanism so that journalists could attend the hearings without going to court during this time. (ANI)

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