New Delhi: Will video or audio recording of court proceedings bring greater transparency in judicial process? This is a question being widely debated after the Calcutta high court allowed it.
On 19 July, The Indian Express reported that the “Calcutta high court, in a first, has recorded court room proceedings, setting a precedent in the country where even the top court has been reluctant to permit cameras and microphones inside court halls”.
The court order was forward thinking in many ways. But it comes with a disclaimer that video recording would not be part of the official record of the case, as there are no court rules to that effect. The judge had categorically said that since the concerned parties in the case agreed to video recording, the same was allowed.
“In terms of precedent, it holds no value. The court is quite categorical as it says the recording will not be part of official records,” said Rahul Singh, assistant professor at the Bengaluru-based National Law School of India University.
So what is stopping courts from adopting such methods? A major factor is cost, said Alok Prasanna of Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, a New Delhi-based think tank. “If I had to pick one factor, I think it is simply cost. Proper video recording, professional transcription, storage, broadcast et al are fairly expensive and may not be most cost effective use of resources even for a high court,” he said.
Singh of NLSIU also pointed to the flip side of such a move. “There might be a lot of playing to the galleries. Audio recording is allowed in the US. But they have a limited time to make their arguments. The problem in India is that a lot of stuff happens in court. Quality of arguments isn’t very good. In fact, more than judges, lawyers are uncomfortable with arguments being recorded,” he said.