Judges take historic step, allow cameras into court
As reported by Dhananjay Mahapatra of TNN in Times of India on 4 May 2008: Welcome
Judges take historic step, allow cameras into court
Time Will Come When SC Work Will Be Videographed: CJI
New Delhi: The judiciary on Saturday took the historic first step towards videographing court proceedings, as often demanded by critics seeking more transparency, by throwing open the doors of its court to TV and print cameramen to record proceedings of ‘people’s court’ dispensing speedy justice.
The judges — Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Ashok Bhan, Arijit Pasayat and Aftab Alam — were without their black robes, sat close to the litigants under the glare of the camera and dispensed justice by thrashing out settlements, an experience unique to the apex court where cameras are kept 100 metres away from court rooms.
Is this the first step towards videographing the apex court proceedings? TOI asked the CJI. “You may say so, but the proceedings were not strictly court proceedings though they were held inside the Chief Justice’s Court and in Court No. 2 of the apex court. The judges were presiding over the Lok Adalats,” said Justice Balakrishnan.
The CJI is not averse to the idea of videorecording the court proceedings. He knows that it is done in several countries mainly for the purpose of maintaining an official record of the proceedings. “The time has not come to allow cameras inside the apex court proceedings,” the CJI said. He is an optimist though. “Ultimately, time will come when it will be allowed,” he said. He said the time was not ripe for allowing videorecording of court proceedings at present because the judiciary handles several sensitive matters and the proceedings were not always civilised.
“Sometimes there are embarrassing moments during court hearings. There are so many sensitive matters. And many acrimonious exchanges between lawyers. It will take some time before the courts allowed videorecording of their proceedings,” he said.
Justice Balakrishnan, who has initiated many steps for clearing the huge backlog of cases that slows down the wheels of justice, said the focus was on making the common people in rural areas aware of their rights under existing laws and providing them a helping hand to seek redressal of their grievances.
Does the spate of criticism of lack of transparency, accountability, pendency of cases exasperate him? “I do not feel exasperated at all. There are many challenges before the judiciary. We will do our best to meet them to the best of our ability and it is the litigants who should judge us,” he said. The single important factor delaying quick adjudication of cases is the lack of adequate number of judges and infrastructure, he said. Reminded about his recent remark about the difficulty in filling up the existing vacancies in judges posts for lower courts, he said most of the states were conducting examinations and exuded confidence that around 2,500 vacant posts would be filled within six months.
Despite the inadequacy of numbers, the judiciary has always risen to the occasion, he said, recalling the prompt service rendered by the judicial officers in earthquake and tsunami-affected states in speedily deciding cases relating to payment of compensation to victims and their families. With setting up of additional family courts and CBI courts, as has been agreed to by the government, the burden on the lower court judges would reduce considerably, he said. How does it feel to be a judge who has a heavy work load and pittance of a salary? “The job gives tremendous satisfaction. Moreover, there is no one who would call us in the middle of work to do this or that. There is no tension of pleasing the superiors,” the CJI said refusing to comment on the need for increase in salary.
ON CAMERA: A view of the court proceedings during the Supreme Court Lok Adalat in New Delhi on Saturday
Integrity of judges, lawyers vital
AS reported by Dhananjay Mahapatra ,TNN, 5 May 2008, 0323 hrs IST,
Law, rights flowing from it, litigants, lawyers and judges complete
the chain that pulls the wheels of justice. The litigants' ride on the
path to justice depends on the driveway laid by the law and the
ability and expertise of lawyers and judges to drive the vehicle of
Purity of justice depends on the lawyers — and the ways and means
adopted by them to assist the courts in reaching a just conclusion —
and the judges, who need to hear the faintest cry for justice and
detect truth from a truck-load of trash.
Honesty and integrity of both lawyers and judges are vital to the
health of the justice delivery system. That is why the legal practice
has traditionally been regarded as a "noble profession" and judges
considered the embodiment of justice and referred to as "My Lords".
The recent spate of demands for transparency and accountability in
judiciary had centred around making judges of the Supreme Court and
high courts, including the Chief Justice of India, answerable to
queries under the Right to Information Act. It is justified keeping in
view the faith public reposes in the judiciary.
A huge majority of judges are upright and possess impeccable
integrity. But public faith in judiciary gets dented when misdeeds of
even one black sheep among them get reported and talked about.
Who creates these black sheep in the judiciary? Who provides them the
fodder? Can a judge be corrupted without the aid of lawyers involved
in a case that set off such alarms?
An interesting narration came from a pained judge. "If a senior
advocate seeks an audience with a judge at his
residence, it is generally consented to as senior advocates are not
only the conscience keepers of the bar, but also help the bench
rectify its mistakes by pointing them out," the judge said.
"If such a lawyer comes for the meeting, leaves two of his clients in
the car outside the judge's residence and carries on with the meeting
prior to a scheduled hearing before the judge, what message will he be
driving home to the waiting litigants," he added. Well, no prizes for
guessing the message for the clients.
Fortunately for the system, this category of senior advocates and
lawyers form but a minuscule part of the largest bar that India boasts
of. But the litigants, who get the 'message' through this innovative
way, spread it far and wide giving credence to a lurking suspicion
about the purity of justice among those who lose out in the courts.
More than 45 years ago, on December 15, 1962, the Rio de Janeiro
Congress of the International Commission of Jurists, attended by 300
jurists from 75 countries, had in all seriousness discussed the role
of lawyers in a changing world.
The world of legal practice has undergone a sea of change since then
but the resolution passed in 1962 still holds good. It had saddled
upon lawyers the duty to promote knowledge of the rule of law and
asked the advocate associations to monitor lawyers' standards of
Both these aspects have received lukewarm response from lawyers'
bodies in India, though similar views were endorsed in the
'Declaration of Delhi' adopted by the Commission in December, 1959.
Little has been done by lawyers' bodies, even the statutory regulatory
body — Bar Council of India (BCI) — to help a helpless section of
judges and litigants harbouring the feeling of being cheated by the
The lawyers' bodies have a definite role to play in dispensing
unadulterated justice. The majority definitely have a role in shutting
out the minuscule mavericks who are a blot on the noble profession and
carry the spoils to the judges to pollute the stream of justice.
Re: Judges take historic step, allow cameras into court
Cameras and journalists were allowed to record/witness/relay Lok Adalat proceedings being held in supreme court and being presided by Hon. CJI.This is a far cry from actual supreme court proceedings,which may take sometime to materialise. Nevertheless some softening up of unreasonable resistance.