A Division Bench of the Supreme Court today made some very interesting remarks during the hearing of a case relating to audio and video recording of proceedings in lower courts.
A Bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit expressed an inclination to consider the recording of proceedings of all courts, including high courts and the Supreme Court.
The remarks were made during the hearing of a case in which Court had asked all high courts to install CCTV cameras (without audio) in courts, in at least two districts in each State.
On March 28, the Court, in a petition filed by one Pradyuman Bisht, had directed the following:
“We direct that at least in two districts in every State/Union Territory (with the exception of small States/Union Territories where it may be considered to be difficult to do so by the concerned High Courts) CCTV cameras (without audio recording) may be installed inside the courts and at such important locations of the court complexes as may be considered appropriate.
Monitor thereof may be in the Chamber of the concerned District and Session Judge. Location of the district courts and any other issues concerning the subject may be decided by the respective High Courts.”
When the hearing began today, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh submitted the reports received from various high courts regarding the same.
He submitted that eight high courts had already implemented the directions of the Court and had installed CCTV cameras in two districts, while four other High Courts were in the process of doing the same.
Singh also submitted that the recording should not be limited to video, but audio recording should also be made.
The Court remarked that the order to record proceedings should be extended to tribunals as well. Justice Goel said to Singh,
“What about tribunals? They are under your purview.”
Singh did not object to the same, after which the Bench then proceeded to make the most interesting remark. Justice Goel said,
“What about High Courts and this Court? Constitutional courts in other countries have audio and video recording. It is not a matter of privacy of judges…
US Supreme Court has video and audio recording of proceedings. It is available on YouTube and anybody can watch it on mobile phone.”
ASG Maninder Singh pointed out that there is a decision of the E-committee of the Supreme Court against recording of Supreme Court proceedings.
“But that is a decision on the administrative side”, was Justice Goel’s reply.
Justice Lalit also joined in, saying that a Court of record means each and everything should be recorded as long as it does not impede the proceedings.
The Court then proceeded to direct that the Centre should consider installation of CCTVs in tribunals.
“We asked learned Additional Solicitor General as to why the Union of India has not so far installed CCTV cameras in Tribunals where open hearing takes place like Court such as ITAT, CESTAT etc. as the tribunals stand on the same footing as far as object of CCTV camera are concerned. He is unable to dispute the utility and requirement of doing so and we see no reason why this should not be done. Recordings will help the constitutional authorities and the High Courts exercising jurisdiction under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution over such Tribunals. We, therefore, direct that this aspect may now be taken up by learned Additional Solicitor General with the concerned authorities so that an appropriate direction is issued by the concerned authority for installation of CCTV cameras in Tribunals in same manner as in Courts and an affidavit filed in this court.”
It also directed that it shall be open to High Courts to install CCTVs in as many courts as it considers fit.
“Though our earlier direction was to install CCTV cameras in two districts in every State/Union Territory, with the experience now gained, it is desirable that CCTV cameras are installed in all subordinate courts in such phased manner as may be considered appropriate by the High Courts. Schedule for the purpose may be laid down within one month and information furnished to this Court within two months.”
The Court also allowed for audio recording.
“Audio recording may also be done”, the Court noted in its order.
Further, the Court made it clear that the recordings shall not be subject to RTI.
Those High Courts which have not submitted their reports have been directed to do so forthwith. The matter is now likely to be taken up on November 21.
Read the order below.pradyuman bisht 140817-watermark
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