A PIL filed in the Supreme Court details how “the non-usage of the installed mic system” make court proceedings inaudible to the public.
Justice should not only be seen to be done, but heard to be done in the Supreme Court, is what a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the apex court by a band of law students and young lawyers under the banner ‘Whistle for Public Interest’ stated.
They draw from their experiences as law interns in the Supreme Court, and later as litigants, to detail how the expensive, but virtually forsaken, mic system installed on the Benches of the apex court judges make court proceedings inaudible and inaccessible to the public. Compounding this problem is the crowded, overflowing courtrooms of the country’s most powerful court. A mute mic system is a violation of the fundamental right of the public to know, they said.
An Right to Information (RTI) reply from the Supreme Court shows that the system was installed in courtrooms at the cost of over ₹91 lakh of the taxpayers’ money, the PIL filed by advocates Kapildeep Agarwal, Kumar Shanu and Paras Jain against the Supreme Court of India said.
Litigants, lawyers and media persons covering the apex court proceedings, especially in nationally important and sensitive cases, remain clueless as judges are hardly audible in courtrooms.
The “non-usage of the installed mic system” closes the door on the public’s statutory and constitutional right to open court proceedings. Under Article 145(4) of the Constitution of India, Section 153 B of the Code of Civil Procedure and Section 327 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, all, necessitate open court proceedings with public access.
The neglect shown to the mic system is a violation of the right to free speech and the protection of freedom of Press, the PIL said. It hinders the “right of media persons to report court proceedings of the Supreme Court and the right to know of public at large, which include interns and litigants, under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution”.
“With the rise of digital media platforms, there is a great rush to break the news in real time by the media persons. This might cause misreporting leading to irreparable loss to all. Such misreporting can also invite Contempt of Court. The chances of misreporting may easily be minimised by use of already installed mic system in the court rooms,” the PIL said.
The PIL refers to a December 11, 2017 meeting called by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra with media persons in which the issue of inaudibility of court proceedings was raised.
“The Chief Justice of India assured the journalists present that he will look into the issue seriously so far as his court i.e. Court No. 1 is concerned. However, as per the Chief Justice, he cannot commit about other courts as the decision has to be unanimous,” the petition said.