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Legal journalists approach Allahabad, Madhya Pradesh HCs to enable live streaming of court proceedings

Court Judiciary

Legal journalists and law students approached the Madhya Pradesh High Court and the Allahabad High Court to urge them to start live streaming their proceedings.

“[L]ive streaming/telecast of the Court hearings are now possible because of the easy availability and abundance of the requisite technology needed for the same, thereby greatly expanding the concept of ‘open Court’ which would now include within its sweep, the Court’s electronic/digital presence through live telecast/streaming,” the application in the Allahabad High Court argued. MediaNama was provided with a copy of both petitions. The Madhya Pradesh High Court issued notice on Monday, Live Law reported, while the Allahabad High Court was scheduled to hear the case on Tuesday.

In both petitions, the petitioners have argued that courts need to be more accessible and open to the public and to journalists and that access to proceedings is critical to the administration of justice. They cited instances of some high courts that stream their proceedings live and/or allow anyone to attend video conferences; these include the Gujarat High Court (which live streams proceedings on YouTube), the Kerala, Bombay and Madras High Courts (which allow guests on video conferences), and the Calcutta High Court (which live streamed one case in the past regarding Parsi religious rights).

The petitioners asked for the creation of a media room for the facilitation of journalists, as is the case in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court does not live stream proceedings, though it has repeatedly discussed doing so.

MP High Court rules challenged

In the Madhya Pradesh High Court petition, the petitioners challenged the court’s video conferencing rules, which restrict access to proceedings for people not directly related to a case. “It is submitted that attending hearing virtually, observing and reporting of the Court Proceedings must be a general rule and denial an exception, which principle has been put upside down on its head vide the impugned rules of this Hon’ble Court,” the petition argues.

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“All the Courts have been throwing out even litigants, strangers, third parties or anybody interested in attending, watching or observing the court proceedings taking place virtually in the High Court of Madhya Pradesh especially in sensitive matters, one of them being that of the comedian Munawar Faruqui, where every journalist was apprehensive of attending virtual Court Proceedings, as the Court staff was extremely reluctant in sharing the live joining link with them,” the petition said.

The Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice submitted in September last year also emphasized the importance of live streaming proceedings, the petition pointed out.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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