New Delhi: In a major bid to ensure transparency, the Supreme Court on Monday favoured the 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.

The top court observed that the constitutional courts in other countries have audio and video recording, as it is not a matter of privacy of judges.

A bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U.U. Lalit directed the Centre to submit a feasibility report on installation of CCTV cameras with audio recordings in courts and tribunals.

“Constitutional courts in other countries have audio and video recording. It is not a matter of privacy of judges," the bench said, giving examples of the proceedings of the US Supreme Court which are available even on the YouTube.

Additional solicitor general (ASG) Maninder Singh, appearing for Centre, pointed out that there was a decision of the e-committee of the apex court that does not allow recording of Supreme Court’s proceedings.

The bench said that order was on the administrative side only and a Court of Record means that each and everything should be recorded as long as it does not obstruct the proceedings.

The top court said it is open for the high courts to decide on the issue of installation of CCTVs with audio recording in as many courts as they considered appropriate.

During the hearing, the ASG submitted reports received from various high courts on the issue of installation of CCTV cameras. He said that 12 high courts had already implemented the 28 March directions and installed CCTV cameras in two district courts each, while some other high courts were yet to comply.

Singh contended that the process should not only be limited to only video recording as directed earlier by the court and suggested that audio recording should also be done. The bench said audio recording will also be done along with video recording.

The apex court, however, made it clear that the footage of the CCTV camera or the audio recording will not be made available under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and not supplied to anyone without permission of the concerned high court.

The top court included tribunals for the first time, besides the courts, for installation of CCTV cameras with audio recordings.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by one Pradyuman Bisht seeking audio and video recording of court proceedings in order to bring transparency.

On 28 March, in a bid to bring transparency, the apex court had for the first time directed the installation of CCTV cameras without audio recording in courts of two districts of each state and Union territory.

It had said that CCTV cameras can also be installed at important locations of the court complexes as may be considered appropriate and their monitor should be kept in the chamber of the concerned district and session judge.

The top court had granted liberty to the high courts to decide the location of the district courts and any other issues concerning the matter and said that the installation should be completed within three months.

It had asked for the report of such experiment within a month of such installation from the registrar generals of the respective high courts to the secretary general of apex court.

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