The Gujarat High Court on Monday began live streaming of court proceedings, of the first court comprising the division bench led by the Chief Justice, on YouTube, on an experimental basis.
In a press release issued by the registrar general on Monday, it was elaborated that the Chief Justice, Vikram Nath, on Monday passed an order for the same. “With a view to effectuating and broadening the implementation of Open Court concept even during the virtual hearings of the Court, this High Court has already taken up on administrative side, to work out the modalities that can be adopted for giving access to anyone who wishes to watch the court proceedings live. The aspect of ensuring the smooth functioning of the benches and distraction-free virtual hearing while making open such access, are being deliberated upon,” said the release.
It is as part of this process that at the moment, proceedings of one courtroom shall be live streamed in an experimental manner. Whether to continue with or adapting this modality of live streaming, will be decided based on the outcome of this experiment.
The modality has been guided primarily by the Supreme Court’s direction in a 2017 public interest litigation for live streaming court proceedings. The HC decision also came on the behest of a public interest litigation filed by a law student of Institute of Law, Nirma University, wherein the petitioner-student had prayed for public access to hearing in light of court proceedings that had been rendered to the virtual medium.
The petitioner had also highlighted some approaches adapted by other High Courts across the country to make court hearings accessible to mediapersons and litigant parties. In July, the Gujarat HC had disposed off the PIL, noting that a committee of two judges has been formed to look into such modalities and the same is under process, with a report expected on its feasibility in the “near future”.
The Gujarat HC has been operating over the virtual medium since March 24, after physical premises were shut, taking into account the safety of all stakeholders in light of the COVID-19 outbreak in Gujarat. The first day of live streaming saw 1,500 viewers flock to the YouTube channel. Accessible to all, this would be the first instance when court proceedings can be directly viewed by anyone.