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Scrutiny
  
What are judges afraid of?
If Parliamentary debates can be televised, reluctance to permit recording of court proceedings seems absurd
30/06/2013

Philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham once said “Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial.” His words today find resonance in thousands of courts worldwide that allow their legal proceedings to be video recorded and webcasted. Various US states, European and Commonwealth countries besides international tribunals have mandated the use of video recording in their courts.

Unfortunately, courts in India have shown excessive resistance to allowing their proceedings to be recorded. In one such instance in the Delhi High Court, a litigant pleaded for video recording the proceedings related to his case. But his petition was dismissed by the court, which observed: “There is… no specific legislation, provision or any law regulating the field referring to which it can be said that there is a mandate of law that the audio/video recording is to be done in respect of court proceedings.”


But if there’s no provision on video-recording of court proceedings, there is also no law barring them. In fact allowing such a measure would bring in transparency, increase affordable public access to the judicial system, afford citizens a form of legal education, act as a powerful check on misconduct by litigants, advocates and judges, promote confidence in the administration of justice, foster respect for the legal system, enhance the performance of all involved by ensuring close scrutiny and enable preservation of records for later generations to analyse. Many in the legal fraternity believe that video-recording is the future of judicial reforms. If the country can have e-courts and if judges have allowed video-conferencing in certian cases, why the resistance to video recording and webcasting of court proceedings?

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