A petition has been filed in the Allahabad High Court seeking directions for live-streaming and live-reporting of court proceedings across Uttar Pradesh, including in High Courts, subordinate courts and tribunals.
The plea, moved by legal reporters Areeb Uddin and Sparsh Upadhyay and three law students, through Advocates Shashwat Anand and others, stated that access to court proceedings has been extremely restricted for legal journalists and law students due to virtual hearings being conducted amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The petition said live-streaming and live-reporting of court proceedings will restore such access and harmonize VC hearings with the ‘open justice’ principle.
“The fundamental right to Freedom of the Press, of the petitioners –as journalists/mediapersons – is well-settled in the day to gain access to VC or physical hearings and report the same as they occur, as the same is an implicit aspect of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution,” the petition said.
The petition stated, “The concept of justice, in its truest sense, would only be realized in an environment of absolute transparency (barring a few exceptional cases) in the affairs of the Indian Judiciary.”
The petitioners relied on the case of Swapnil Tripathi & Ors. v. Supreme Court of India & Ors., whereby the Supreme Court had decided to live-stream court proceedings in the larger public interest.
Referring to the dedicated media room of Supreme Court and Gujarat High Court, the petitioners prayed that a similar set-up, equipped with necessary technology and infrastructure, be provided in Allahabad High Court as well to ensure all persons are able to view the virtual and physical proceedings of cases.
Thus, the petitioners have urged the Allahabad High Court to:‐
(1) Issue directions for establishment of dedicated media rooms within Court premises, equipped with necessary technological and infrastructural facilities, to ensure that all persons including journalists are able to view the VC/ physical proceedings;
(2) Ensure that there is a single VC link for the entire Causelist, as is being done by the Supreme Court, and the High Courts of Bombay, Madras and Kerala;
(3) Direct that public, including Journalists, may be allowed to freely access Virtual Courts through the VC links, which may be published on the High Court website or along with the Causelist of each day;
(4) VC links for the hearings of each day be sent via SMS/ Email/ WhatsApp to the journalists registered as legal correspondents with the High Court.