Transparency and Accountability are the major measuring rods for any pillar of democracy. The more transparent a body is the more confidence people will have in it. It has been a long-standing demand from several civil society groups and also from the government itself to have audio and video recording of the court proceedings. However, the judiciary has been reluctant in making itself open for public scrutiny. However, the recent decision of the government to allow CCTV cameras inside the courtrooms is a move in the right direction. However, if the trust on the judiciary has to improve, then a few landmark judgments will not suffice. The whole system has to become transparent.
The recent decision of judiciary can be summed up in the following way:
- No audio recording, but an only video recording of the court proceedings through Closed Circuit Television Vision (CCTV) Cameras.
- At least two districts in each state to have CCTV cameras in courts and in court complexes
- High courts to have cameras installed within three months
- These video recordings are not accessible through RTI without the order of the High Court.
This eventually means that the opacity still remains in the judiciary because no one will get to know what has been told in the court as there is no audio recording. They are not accessible through RTI and the decision of the High Court may take longer time. Later on, the same issue itself may become a burden to the courts which are already having a lot of cases pending with them. This will result in both delay and denial of justice.
The judiciary has kept itself opaque from people as well as other organs of democracy like legislation and executive. That is why, despite being passed, the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act was quashed by the honorable Supreme Court. I agree that some judges are favouring NJAC and they have to be considered as an exception. NJAC would have given more transparency in the appointment of judges. However, the collegiums system has overpowered NJAC.
While we are talking about self-disclosure by the governments to maintain transparency and accountability, while we are forcing the political parties to come under RTI and disclose about the sources of their funds, it is important for the judiciary to introspect its views and decisions. All expenditures that are incurred on judiciary comes from public money and the public should have the right to know the proceedings of the courts. It will not only improve trust on the judiciary, but also speed up the proceedings of the cases as judges can access the recordings of the previous proceedings which will help them to move ahead faster with the case.
(The author of the article is a Psychologist and the Founder of
By Akshara Damle
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of AFTERNOON VOICE and AFTERNOON VOICE does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)