Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of Vikram Nath, CJ and P.B. Pardiwala, J., while addressing an issue with regard to the live streaming of the Court proceedings held that a committee to work out the modalities for the said purpose has been constituted comprising of two Judges of this Court.

A law student raised the issue with regard to the Live Streaming/Open Access of the Court proceedings and in the public interest Gujarat High court should work out the necessary modalities for the said purpose.

Bench on perusal of the material on record, stated that to observe the  requirement of an open Court proceedings, members of the public should be allowed to view the Court hearings through video conferencing except the proceedings ordered for the reasons recorded in writing to be conducted in-camera.

Right to Know and receive information is one of the facts of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and for which reason the public is entitled to witness the Court proceedings.

As, the above-stated Court proceedings involve the issue impacting the public at large or a section of the public.

Bench appreciated the efforts of the 3rd year law student appeared in person in the public interest.

Further, in line of the above-stated observations, Bench stated that to work out the modalities to facilitate the people at large including the media to watch the virtual hearing, Committee of two Judges of this High Court has been constituted pursuant to Standing Committee’s decision on 25-06-2020.

In the near future, a report of the committee is expected after which to allow access to the public at large including the media persons of print digital and electronic media shall be finalized.

Petition was disposed of in view of the above. [Pruthvirajsinh Zala v. Gujarat High Court, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 1055 , decided on 20-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Sandeep Mehta and Abhay Chaturvedi, JJ., allowed a Habeas Corpus Petition and allowed the petitioner to stay with his wife, and directing the authorities to provide her with adequate protection.

In the instant case, the corpus, Urmila, a Government teacher posted at Jalore District, was staying at Nari Niketan, Jodhpur expressed her willingness to stay with the petitioner, her husband, with whom she was legally married. However, she conveyed an apprehension that she and her family might be under scrutiny and subject to harassment from the members of the community. The Counsel representing the petitioner, Pradeep Choudhary, thus prayed to the Court for providing adequate measures against such mishaps.

The High Court, in an in-camera proceeding, took into consideration the prayer of the petitioner and directed the police authorities to accompany the petitioner, his wife, and the family till they reach the matrimonial home. The petitioner was also provided an assurance of necessary steps to be taken in case of any untoward incident taking place by the members of the society.[Dinesh Suthar v. State of Rajasthan, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 1229, decided on 01-07-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Taking note of the seriousness of the issue relating to the abduction, rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua District of J&K in the month of January, the bench of 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ transferred the trial of the matter from the District & Sessions Judge, Kathua to the District & Sessions Judge, Pathankot situate in the State of Punjab.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the family of the victim, had argued before the Court that since there have been some unwarranted situations that have occurred in and outside the Kathua Bar Association, the locality in question, the involvement of many groups and various other aspects, a fair trial was not possible at Kathua.

Stating that a fair trial is a sacrosanct principle under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and a ‘fair trial’ means fair to the accused persons, as well as to the victims of the crime, the Court issued the following directions while transferring the matter to Pathankot:

  • The learned District & Sessions Judge, Pathankot shall himself take up the trial and not assign it to any Additional Sessions Judge;
  • The learned District & Sessions Judge, Pathankot shall fast-track the trial and take it up on day-to-day basis so that there is no delay in trial;
  • The examination-in-chief and the cross-examination of witnesses shall be in a continuous manner and for no reasons whatsoever the same shall be deferred;
  • The trial shall be held in camera so that the witnesses feel protected and the accused persons feel safe;
  • As this Court is monitoring the matter, no court shall entertain any petition pertaining to this case; The transferee court shall proceed under the Ranbir Penal Code as that applies to the State of Jammu & Kashmir;
  • The statements of the witnesses that have been recorded in Urdu language shall be translated to English so that the transferee court does not face any difficulty in conducting the trial;
  • The State of Jammu & Kashmir shall provide requisite number of interpreters as directed by the learned District & Sessions Judge, Pathankot so that the deposition of the witnesses can be properly recorded and translated copies thereof can be provided to the accused persons;
  • It shall be the duty of the State of Jammu & Kashmir to transport the witnesses to Pathankot and provide all other necessary facilities, including food, etc. so that the witnesses do not face any difficulty;
  • The accused persons shall also be similarly treated so that they do not feel that solely because they are accused persons, they are presumed to be guilty, for it is the settled principle that they are innocent till they are found guilty;
  • The State of Jammu & Kashmir is granted liberty to appoint the Public Prosecutor for prosecution of the case;
  • The juvenile, who is facing the trial, shall be dealt with in accordance with law and he should be given all special care and protection as per the command of the law.

Emphasising on the concept of fair trial, the Court said:

“In the instant case, direct victims are the family members of the deceased, although ultimately collective is the victim of such crime. The fair trial commands that there has to be free atmosphere where the victims, the accused and the witnesses feel safe. They must not suffer from any kind of phobia while attending the court. Fear and fair trial are contradictory in terms and they cannot be allowed to co-exist.”

The Court also reiterated that the protection granted by it to victim’s family & lawyers via order dated 16th April, 2018, shall continue and shall not be varied till the trial is over.

[Mohd. Akhtar v. State of Jammu & Kashmir, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 494, order dated 07.05.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Lauding the Ministry of Justice for taking commendable steps in the matter in coordinating the implementation of the direction of this Court regarding the installation of CCTV Cameras in all subordinate Courts as well as in all the Tribunals, the Bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit, JJ said that though the Ministry of Law has coordinated the implementation of the order with regard to the Tribunals, a lot of work still remains to be done.

Earlier on 21.11.2017, the Court had asked for a report from the Centre and had said:

“Judges don’t need privacy in court proceedings.”

Listing the matter on 11.12.2017, the Court said that proposal to connect live recordings with National Judicial Data Grid may be considered and the Union of India of India may file a response regarding the same on the next date.

The Court also suggested that the authorities may consider provision for terminal availability with appropriate superior authority of Court/Tribunal with regard to places which are not manned by appropriate higher rank authority at the place where CCTV Camera is installed. Decision in this regard may be taken at the level of High Court with regard to Courts and coordinating Ministry concerned with regard to Tribunals.

Taking note of the report of the Punjab and Haryana High Court that said that a comprehensive plan of action has been prepared to have CCTV Cameras in all Courts in four phases, the bench said that the said plan should be adopted as far as possible and the report may be put on the website of the Ministry of Justice to facilitate coordination with all the High Courts and Tribunals. [Pradyuman Bisht v. Union of India,  2017 SCC OnLine SC 1358, order dated 23.11.2017]

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Supreme Court: Calling for installation of CCTV cameras in Courts, the bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit, JJ said that there is no need for privacy in courtrooms as nothing private happens there. The bench said:

“Judges don’t need privacy in court proceedings. Nothing private is happening here. We all are sitting in front of you.”

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for Centre, said that the installation of CCTVs and video recording of court proceedings was important and would be beneficial for all. She submitted before the Court that the Ministry of Law and Justice has to sanction a proposal for financial outlay, which could be accorded any time soon. The Court, hence, asked the Centre to submit the report on the next date of hearing i.e. 23.11.2017. It said that this step was in larger public interest, discipline and security and hence, it should be delayed.

On August 14, the apex court had favoured installation of CCTV cameras with audio recording of all court proceedings, including in its own complex along with those of the high courts and tribunals, to bring in transparency.

Source: PTI