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Supreme Court- Live Streaming and Recording of Court Proceedings

July 23, 2021

Draft Model Rules on Live Streaming and Recording of Court Proceedings

The Supreme Court of India has released the Draft Model Rules[1] (hereinafter referred to as ‘Rules’) for Live-Streaming and Recording of Court proceedings on May 28, 2021. These Rules have been released pursuant to the online functioning of Courts in the wake of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, these Rules assist in the creation of infrastructure for smooth streaming and recording of live proceedings.

Key highlights of the Rules:

  • The Rules mandate having five camera angles in the court room i.e., towards the Bench, the advocates, the accused and the witness/deponent;
  • The Rules mandate the setting up of a Dedicated Control Room (DCR) in every Court complex. The DCR would ensure that the proceedings are live-streamed, recorded and transcribed, and that nothing inappropriate and uncivil is streamed in the public domain;
  • The Rules call for the appointment of technical experts to enable the live-streaming process;

Matters for which Live Streaming will not be done

-Matrimonial matters

-Cases regarding sexual offences

-Proceedings initiated under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

-Cases concerning gender-based violence against women

-Matters under the POCSO and Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.

-In camera proceedings as under Section 327 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or Section 153 B of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

-Where the live-streaming would be against the administration of justice. For this, the reasons of the Bench have to be recorded in writing.

-Cases which may provoke enmity amongst communities and could result in a breach of law and order, according to the bench.

-Recording of evidence and cross-examination

-Privileged communication between parties and their advocated

-Any other matter in which the bench or the Chief Justice has given a specific direction.

 

  • The Rules mandate that the parties are to be duly informed that the proceedings are being live-streamed, and any objections to the same are to be raised by filling of Forms under the schedules. Schedule I and II appended to these Rules contains a form which has to be filled by the party objecting to live-streaming of the proceedings. It contains details such as Dairy number, Cause Title, Reasons for objection to the live-streaming to be mentioned, and the details of the applicant.
  • The recordings of the proceedings will be archived and will be uploaded wholly or in part, on the Courts’ website or other digital platforms, as directed by the Court;
  • Personal details such as names, addresses, identity cards of parties will be deleted during live stream as a general precaution;
  • The live-stream will operate with a delay of ten minutes so as to ensure that all requirements under the Rules are met and checked by the DCR;
  • The Courts’ have the exclusive Copyright over the recordings and archival data.;
  • The transcripts of the recording can be prepared, only when directed by the Court, and may be translated to other scheduled languages as well;
  • To obtain the recordings in the archival data, the form appended under Schedule III needs to be filled out by the applicant. The personal details of the applicant, reason for requesting access etc. are asked for in this schedule.
  • It is clear that the Rules for the streaming and access of live-proceedings are essential in light of the on-going pandemic. These Rules allow for live-streaming, recording and accessing the recording on digital platforms and the Courts’ websites. The smooth functioning of virtual hearing and live streaming of Court proceedings shall definitely be better suited with the access to such recordings and transcripts.

Gujarat High Court Launches Live Streaming of Court proceedings

It is important to note that on these Rules were put to action and live streaming of court proceedings was formally launched in the Gujarat High Court, by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on July 17th, 2021. The Gujarat High Court had been live streaming proceedings on an experimental pilot basis, and the formal launch was done on July 17th in the presence of the Hon’ble CJI  and Hon’ble Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah.

[1] https://cdnbbsr.s3waas.gov.in/s388ef51f0bf911e452e8dbb1d807a81ab/uploads/2021/06/2021060752.pdf

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