The Big Story: Moving towards transparency
The Supreme Court on Monday, after years of delay, agreed to live stream its proceedings. The court asked Attorney General KK Venugopal to place before it a thorough plan on how to implement this, including details about the costs it would entail and technology to achieve this. The petition was moved by senior lawyer Indira Jaising.
This is a giant step by the Supreme Court to move towards a regime of transparency.
Litigation before India’s top constitutional court does not affect just the parties who come before it. Given how the concept of public interest litigation has been widened over the last three decades, many cases before the Supreme Court have profound constitutional, social and political implications. Live streaming will deal head on with the problem of distance. Given that the court is located in New Delhi, many people cannot afford to be present physically in Supreme Court to follow the arguments, even if the case directly affects them in some way. In fact, even litigants are often unable to travel to court because of the cost and distance involved, leaving it entirely to their lawyers to run the case.
A live telecast of proceedings also has the potential to reduce unwarranted delays in the cases caused by the occasionally cavalier attitude of lawyers. With the client’s eye firmly on them, lawyers are likely to expedite cases. Further, this will provide an opportunity to young lawyers to showcase their talents to the world and has the potential to break the stranglehold of a select few over the legal profession.
Live streaming could act as a welcome check on the judiciary. With the public watching, there is every chance that there will be a reduction in the sometimes unnecessary oral comments that cause much controversy but have no judicial bearing.
However, live telecast comes with some drawbacks. As seen in the Parliament, there is a tendency to grandstand among lawmakers, who want to show their electorate that they are indeed working hard. The court has to make sure proceedings are unaffected by the introduction of a new technology.
- Nawaz Sharif’s conviction in Pakistan is not about corruption. It has to do with his questioning of the military, says Ayyesha Siddiqa in Indian Express.
- With the Punjab government ordering dope tests on government servants, Vipin Pubby in The Hindu argues that the state needs a sober, well-thought-out strategy to deal with drug abuse.
- Victimhood is a powerful claim on the rest of society and the world. Letting go of it is like writing off the debt someone owes to us, writes V Anantha Nageswaran in Mint.
In Delhi, an unsettling pattern of custodial deaths, policemen on trial and rare convictions.
“In Delhi, there have been a few convictions in such cases. In December 2017, the Delhi High Court upheld the conviction of six policemen from the Special Staff of the Delhi Police for the custodial death of a person in 1995. It did the same in 2009 in the case of three policemen found guilty of setting a man ablaze in a police station in 1980.”