Supreme Court allows live streaming: Detailed guidelines

An order by Supreme Court Justice DY Chandrachud today issued detailed guidelines on the proposed live-streaming of court proceedings.

The guidelines include the kind of cases that are prohibited from being streamed, and instructions on what can be and what should not be broadcast.

The following are the instructions given by Justice Chandrachud today.

First, the order prohibits certain types of cases from being broadcast. These include matrimonial matters, including transfer petitions; cases involving sensitive issues as in the nature of sexual assault; and matters where children and juveniles are involved, like POCSO cases.

Apart from the general prohibition on streaming cases falling in the above categories, the presiding judge of each courtroom shall have the discretion to disallow live-streaming for specific cases where, in his/her opinion, publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.

“This may be intimated by the presiding judge in advance or live-streaming may be suspended as and when a matter is being heard,” the order said.

It would also be possible for one of the parties involved in the case to object to live-streaming of the proceedings, but in such case, the final authority on live-streaming the case shall lie with the presiding judge, it said.

Live-streaming of the proceedings should be carried out with a delay of two minutes, to enable the judges to suspend the broadcast in case of unruly behavior or other unexpected events.

Live-streamed and archived videos of the broadcast shall be made available on the official website of the Supreme Court. The recorded broadcast of each day shall be made available as archives on the official website of the Supreme Court by the end of the day.

Live-streaming shall commence as soon as the judges arrive in the courtroom and shall continue till the Bench rises.

To stop the broadcast in case of any emergency, the presiding judge of the courtroom shall be provided with an appropriate device for directing the technical team to stop live-streaming, “if the Bench deems it necessary in the interest of administration of justice,” the order noted.

Proceedings will continue to be live-streamed unless the presiding judge orders the recording to be paused or suspended.

Advocates addressing the Bench, and judges addressing the Bar, must use microphones.

The portions of proceedings which are not broadcast online, on the direction of the presiding judge of the Bench shall not be made part of the official records and shall be placed separately as ‘confidential records’.

Cameras should be focused only on the judges and advocates pleading before the Bench in the matter being live-streamed, and will not point to the media and visitor’s galleries at any time.

Cameras may zoom in on the Bench when any judge is dictating an order or judgment or making any observation or enquiry to the advocate.

On the other hand, discussions among the judges, instructions to the administrative staff of the courtroom and any staff member delivering messages to the judge may not be broadcast.

Similarly, the camera should not zoom in on the notes taken by the judges or the advocates.