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CJAR Statement on Audio Visual Recording of Court proceedings

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CAMPAIGN FOR JUDICIAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND REFORMS

6/6 basement Jangpura B, Delhi – 110014

judicialreforms.org

Patrons:  Justice P.B.Sawant, Justice H.Suresh, Shri Shanti Bhushan,, Prof. B.B.Pande,, Dr. Bhaskar Rao, Ms. Arundhati Roy, Dr. Banwari Lal Sharma, Shri Pradip Prabhu, Prof Babu Mathew, Dr. Baba Adhav, Ms. Kamini Jaiswal, Shri Mihir Desai, Shri Manoj Mitta

Executive Committee: Prashant Bhushan, Venkatesh Sundaram, Indu Prakash Singh, , Devvrat,  Nikhil Dey, Cheryl D’souza, Anjali Bharadwaj, Dipa Sinha, Annie Raja, Ramesh Nathan, Siddharth Sharma, Indira Unninayar, Madhuresh Kumar, Vijayan MJ, Harish Narasappa, Vipul Mudgal

CJAR STATEMENT ON AUDIO VIDEO RECORDING OF COURT PROCEEDINGS

In the last one and half years, the Supreme Court of India has been reluctant to allow audio-video (AV) recording of court proceedings. In November 2014, the e-Committee of the Supreme Court rejected the Central Government’s proposal to introduce AV recording in subordinate courts as a part of the e-Courts project. Later in January 2015, a 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court dismissed a petition that proposed the installation of CCTV cameras in the court halls of the Supreme Court. Thereafter, in July 2015 as well, the E-Committee did not consider the Central Government’s proposal to install AV recording systems in subordinate courts on the ground that the courts system in India has not reached the level where recording of court proceedings can be permitted.

Use of AV recording is a simple way to utilize technology to usher in transparency and accountability within the judiciary. It can help in enhancing the decorum of court proceedings as all the actions of judges, lawyers and other participants will be regularly monitored. Precise recording of case proceedings will be a great resource for judges to recollect relevant aspects of cases in which trial has taken a long time for completion. Even for judges hearing cases that were initially before other benches, transcripts of previous hearings will prove beneficial. Further, these transcripts will be useful for appellate courts as they can have exact details of hearings in the lower courts. Another advantage is that AV recordings can assist the judges to prevent witnesses from retracting their previous statements during trials. It can also help in speeding up trials as judges would be more careful in granting adjournments for frivolous reasons.

Moreover, AV recording of court proceedings has become an accepted international practice not only in developed countries but also in countries such as South Africa.

Regardless of the Supreme Court’s seeming lack of interest, the Union Minister for Law and Justice recently wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India with a request to start AV recording on a pilot basis in a few district courts. This consistent push by the Central Government for such a reform is reasonable and warrants a detailed appraisal by the Supreme Court.

It is high time the Supreme Court realises the benefits that AV recordings can bring to the judicial system. We request the Chief Justice of India to re-consider the Supreme Court’s position on this significant proposal and urge him to take necessary steps on priority.