In an era of rapid technological advancements and increasing accessibility to information, the Chief Justice of India (CJI), DY Chandrachud, recently highlighted the implications of livestreaming Supreme Court proceedings. While acknowledging the potential benefits of transparency and accountability, the CJI emphasized the “flip side” of having every word spoken by judges in the court available to the public realm.
Livestreaming court proceedings is a relatively recent development that aims to foster greater openness in the judicial system. By allowing the public to observe courtroom proceedings in real-time, it offers an unprecedented level of transparency and empowers citizens to witness the legal process firsthand. This transparency can strengthen public trust in the judiciary, as it ensures that justice is dispensed in a fair and impartial manner.
However, the CJI’s remarks shed light on the potential challenges posed by livestreaming. Every word spoken by judges, including their questions, observations, and even speculative remarks, becomes part of the public record. This newfound exposure raises concerns regarding the context in which these statements are made. Judges may engage in discussions, seek clarifications, or even explore hypothetical scenarios during proceedings. Such deliberations, while essential to the judicial process, may be misinterpreted or taken out of context when broadcasted to a wider audience.
Furthermore, the availability of livestreamed proceedings can also impact the behavior and dynamics within the courtroom. Judges and lawyers may become conscious of being observed by the public, potentially leading to self-censorship or a deviation from their natural courtroom demeanor. This concern may be particularly relevant in high-profile cases where the scrutiny is intensified.
Another challenge lies in the potential exploitation of livestreamed proceedings. The ease of accessibility provided by technology enables the recording and dissemination of selected excerpts from the courtroom. These snippets may circulate on social media platforms and other online forums, sometimes divorced from their original context. The risk of misinterpretation or distortion increases, and the public discourse may become influenced by partial information or sensationalized narratives.
Addressing these concerns requires a delicate balance between transparency and safeguarding the integrity of the judicial process. Measures such as delayed broadcasting, where a slight delay is introduced to the livestream, can allow for the removal of sensitive or inappropriate content. This approach preserves the essence of openness while mitigating potential risks. Additionally, guidelines and best practices can be established to ensure responsible use of livestreamed proceedings and minimize the chances of misrepresentation or exploitation.
Moreover, the judiciary can play an active role in providing clarifications and contextual explanations when certain statements or discussions gain undue attention or are misrepresented. By proactively engaging with the public and addressing concerns, the judiciary can help shape an informed narrative and dispel any misconceptions that may arise from the livestreamed proceedings.
The “flip side” mentioned by the CJI serves as a reminder that the benefits of livestreaming proceedings come with inherent challenges. It is essential to recognize and address these challenges in a proactive and responsible manner. By continuously evaluating and refining the implementation of livestreaming, the judiciary can strike a balance between transparency and safeguarding the integrity of the judicial process. Ultimately, the goal should be to create an inclusive and accountable legal system that inspires public trust while upholding the fundamental principles of justice.