Skip to main content

CCTV in courts outside RTI purview, sans sound recording is against transparency: CJAR on Supreme Court order

By Our Representative
India’s top legal rights organization, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), has taken strong exception to the Supreme Court “direction” that “CCTV video coverage will be beyond the reach of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.”
In a statement on the Supreme Court order in Pradyuman Bisht v Union of India, passed on March 28, directing the experimental use of CCTVs in trial courts in at least two districts of each large state, CJAR says, while it welcomes the development, “we are troubled by some of the accompanying directions.”
Pointing out that the directios “have the effect of defeating the purpose of this exercise and not being in the interests of ushering in greater transparency and accountability in the functioning of the judiciary”, CJAR says, “As a matter of principle, courts cannot and should not carve out such exceptions to an important transparency law without very strong and compelling reasons.”
Those association with CJAR include Justice (retd) PB Sawant, Justice H Suresh (retd), well-known advocates Mihir Desai and Prashant Bhushan, senior activists Nikhil Dey, Cheryl Dsouza, Venkatesh Sundaram, Indu Praskash Singh, Annie Raja, Madhuresh Kumar, and Anjali Bharadwaj, among others.
“In the present instance, as all court proceedings are necessarily open to the public, we do not see any reason whatsoever for the exclusion of the videos obtained from the CCTV cameras from the scope of the RTI Act”, the statement underlines.
“Once people are allowed to watch the proceedings, there is no reason whatsoever to deny those people a copy of the record of those proceedings”, the statement says, adding, “The denial of such record would continue to lead to disputes about what actually transpired in the court.”
“There is no reason for such disputes to remain, when current technology allows a clear record of what transpired to be kept and made available”, the statement says, adding, “While the High Court has been empowered to grant permission to anyone seeking the video recording, we do not think that this is an adequate or viable replacement to the mechanism of the RTI Act.”
“Further”, the statement says, “by not providing for sound recording, the CCTV experiment as directed by the Court is bound to fail.” It insists, “The goal of ensuring full transparency in the judicial process would be completely defeated if CCTV footage is not accompanied by audio recording of the proceedings.”
Claiming that the order is “in keeping with the Supreme Court’s reluctance to allow audio-video (AV) recording of court proceedings in the past”, the statement says, “In November 2014, the e-Committee of the Supreme Court rejected the Central Government’s proposal to introduce AV recording in subordinate courts as a part of the e-Courts project.”
“Later in January 2015, a 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court dismissed a petition that proposed the installation of CCTV cameras in the court halls of the Supreme Court”, the statement says, adding, “Thereafter, in July 2015 as well, the e-Committee did not consider the Central Government’s proposal to install AV recording systems in subordinate courts on the ground that the courts system in India has not reached the level where recording of court proceedings can be permitted.”
The statement argues, “The interests of transparency in judicial proceedings will be rendered more meaningful if there is audio and video recording of court proceedings. We therefore urge the Supreme Court to modify its order so this much needed experiment is launched in a more sustainable manner, which can then be expanded to all levels of the judiciary.”

Comments

TRENDING

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

One lakh schools closed down, draft policy 'seeks' commercialisation: Whither RTE?

By Our Representative
A national consultation on the new draft National Education Policy (NEP) with senior experts, teachers’ association representatives and other stakeholders at the India International Centre in New Delhi on July 11, organised by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, has expressed serious concern over curtailment in the budgeted expenditure on education year after year, even as closure of more than one lakh schools over the "last few years."

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.