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Centre awaits SC nod on video-recording court proceedings

COURT-TVThe central government is awaiting feedback from the Supreme Court before expanding digitization of court proceedings by introducing audio and video recordings of proceedings.

The ministry of law and justice said that it has been getting suggestions that following the digitization of court documents, a move should be made to digitize and record entire proceedings.

At present, India follows the centuries-old custom of recording court proceedings by writing them down. A clerk types almost everything that is said in a courtroom by way of evidence.

However, with advancement in technology, it is now possible to record the proceedings, as is done in foreign countries, at virtually zero cost.

“The Government has been receiving suggestions for the implementation of audio-video recording of court proceedings. The issue has also been discussed in the meetings of Advisory Council of National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reform,” the ministry of law and justice said.

However, said the ministry, the proposal has been deferred on the suggestion of the Chief Justice of India.

“In the meeting of eCommittee of the Supreme Court of India held on 8th January, 2014, Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India advised deferment of audio-video recording of court proceedings as this would require consultations with Hon’ble Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts,” it said.

Indian judges do not allow any recording devices to be brought into the court, though such restrictions have become nearly impossible to implement due to the possibility of recording using mobile phones, which are allowed.

However, no official recordings of court proceedings are allowed at present.

The policy of no-recording has also prevented the live broadcast of court cases involving subjects of national interest — such as corruption and politics — to the people.

In contrast, most of the proceedings of the Indian judiciary are accessible to the citizens via live broadcasts through dedicated channels.

Allowing the recording of court proceedings are expected to boost transparency and reduce allegations of impropriety.

In countries like the US, many states allow court proceedings to be recorded and broadcast. This has led to the emergence of channels such as Court TV, which specialize in covering interesting judicial cases.

India has a three-tier judiciary. At the lowest level is the trial courts, where evidence is introduced and evaluated.

After this, there are two levels — High Courts at the state level and the Supreme Court at the national level — where these judgments can be appealed.

While individual cases go through the three tiers, cases of public and national interest and those pertaining to governments and organizations can be filed directly in the High Courts or the Supreme Court.

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