Considering the hard work and challenges of the media persons, the Supreme Court on Thursday announced the launch of a mobile application for the journalists through which they can report the virtual court proceedings without risking their lives by coming to the court premises amid this pandemic.
The announcement was made during a virtual event held by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana. Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar have also joined the meeting who are recovering from Covid-19. Justice Hemant Gupta was also there.
CJI Ramana said, “We came to know that media was depending on advocates to get links and cover court. Thus there was request to create a mechanism so that press could attend the hearings.”
Besides launching the app, CJI also mentioned about introducing a feature of ‘Indicative Notes’ on the website as well as on the mobile app which will summarise landmark judgments.
Remembering the days when he was working as a journalist, CJI Ramana said, “Media faces great challenges in reporting. I was a journalist for a brief time. That time we did not have car or bikes…Thus I too encountered difficulties as a journalist.”
He also cautioned that there are possibilities of small issues at the initial phase of this ‘technological journey’ and hoped that requisite time would be given to the system to expand.
“Errors may not be unnecessarily magnified. We are also introducing indicative mode which will summarise landmark judgments,” he added.
CJI Ramana also indicated that the court is considering live streaming the court proceedings in some courts and will seek consensus of all the judges before taking the step. He has also assured that a senior official will be appointed to act as a point of contact between the Supreme Court and media.
“Our media friends, you need not bother coming to Court. You can sit at home and watch the proceedings. Everyone has worked hard on this,” said CJI Ramana.
Adding a caveat, Justice Hemant Gupta said, “Access to media to court proceedings will increase transparency. One should be careful in reporting. There is a caveat, that links given to you are used in a bona fide manner and unauthorized persons do not use it. It will not be fair to the institution.”
Justice Chandrachud informed that all the six people who have been working on the app had tested for Covid-19.
He further stated, “All of us are in this together. We hope that this facility which CJI unveils will keep you all safe. Journalists are exposed so much to the outside world. I hope this is a part of the many steps which will be taken by CJI in the near future.”
Justice Khanwilkar also commented, “Keeping the important association of the press with this institution in mind, we know that they are rendering essential services which needs to be harnessed. The institution is paying back by offering this little gift which will be cherished in the long run which is temporary now but can be permanent in the future depending on the operational issues we encounter.”
While closing the meeting, CJI Ramana stated
“Access to public is important. Unfortunately, COVID has wreaked havoc. The shift to VC hearings is a difficult process and a lot of issues were faced. Former CJI Bobde, Justice Khanwilkar, Justice Chandrachud, worked very hard for the last one year. We must thank them.
Transparency is a time-honored principle when it comes to the judicial process in our country. Hearing of cases have always taken place in public courtrooms, with access being allowed not only to the lawyers and the litigants in a particular case, but also to the general public. The only restrictions that were ever imposed earlier were because of space and security considerations.
This access to the public is important, as the rulings of the Courts of law, and more particularly the Supreme Court, have a bearing on the lives of people throughout this country. The role of the media assumes importance in the process of disseminating information”