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Madhya Pradesh High Court directs its IT Wing to provide video conferencing links

The Madhya Pradesh High Court administration decided that it will provide web links on its website that so that citizens can access court proceedings which are currently being held via video conferencing mode, a direction by the MP HC said. This was in response to a plea filed by four journalists seeking permission for live-streaming of court proceedings and live reporting.

The MP HC direction dated June 17 said, “The writ petitions are disposed of by taking note of the resolution of the E-Court Committee of the High Court..in respect of sharing the link of live streaming of Court proceedings conducted via video conferencing through the website of the High Court in one-way mode and directing the IT Wing of the High Court to give effect to the said resolution without any unnecessary delay.” (emphasis added) The matter was earlier placed before E-Court Committee on June 14, which accorded permission for providing access to court proceedings.

However, the court also said that there will be certain restrictions that would apply during the live streaming of proceedings. The Madhya Pradesh HC cited the judgement of the Swapnil Tripathi vs Supreme Court of India case and said that the restrictions mentioned in the judgement will apply here too.

What are the restrictions?

The Supreme Court recently published the draft rules on live streaming. They are —

  • No person/entity (including print and electronic media, and social media platforms) other than an authorised person/entity shall record, share and/or disseminate live-streamed proceedings or archival data. This provision shall also apply to all messaging applications.
  • Any party/ litigant-in-person accessing the Live-stream will be bound by these Rule
  • The live-stream shall not, without the prior written authorisation of the Court, be reproduced, transmitted, uploaded, posted, modified, published, or re-published in any form
  • The use of authorised recordings in their original form may be permitted by the Court, inter-alia to disseminate news and for training, academic and educational purposes. Authorised recordings handed over for the aforesaid purposes shall not be further edited or processed

Petition regarding live proceedings in Allahabad HC too

At the beginning of this month, legal journalists and law students approached the Allahabad High Court and MP 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 — Application in the Allahabad HC

In both petitions, petitioners argued that courts needed to be more accessible and open to the public and to journalists and that access to proceedings was critical to the administration of justice. They cited instances of some high courts that stream their proceedings live and/or allowed anyone to attend video conferences; these include —

  • Gujarat High Court (which live streams proceedings on YouTube)
  • Kerala, Bombay and Madras High Courts (which allow guests on video conferences)
  • Calcutta High Court (which live-streamed one case in the past regarding Parsi religious rights).

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