Proceedings in district courts should be livestreamed

Chief Justice of India, Justice DY Chandrachud’s proposal for livestreaming of proceedings in the district courts must be welcomed and acted upon in right earnest. Recently, the Supreme Court allowed livestreaming of the constitution bench hearings on its website. Livestreaming needs to be made operational not only for big-ticket cases but also for everyday proceedings at the district level, which is the first interface of the citizen with the judicial system.
Improving transparency must be one of the important objectives of judicial reforms. For a majority of Indians, the first brush with the judicial system happens at the district court level, be it civil cases involving family disputes or property quarrels or criminal charges ranging from petty theft to murder and assault. An overwhelming majority of the 47 million pending cases in the Indian judicial system are piled up at the district-level courts. Any reform must begin at this level. Bringing the court proceedings live would bring accountability in the legal profession and help strengthen the people’s faith in the judiciary. Though the apex court had given the nod for livestreaming in 2018, there was not much headway for nearly two years. However, during the pandemic, the SC and the high courts were forced to commence virtual hearings.
Livestreaming could be of immense benefit for the litigants who are unable to attend the court. Livestreaming is a worldwide phenomenon, with constitutional courts in developed countries having their own channels. It will also help prevent disinformation and misinformation, bring discipline and improve how judges and lawyers conduct the proceedings, as they are aware that the public is watching.