Kewal krishan Sethi
The supreme court has started telecast of live proceedings of the arguments in the courts.
The big question: Who will benefit from this?
The general public? The lawyers? The judges and magistrates of the lower courts?
Does the general public bother to listen to long winded speeches full of legal jargon going on for days and days, not following a word of what is being said and propounded. The telecast being discussed will only encourage the lawyers, especially of the political bent of mind, to lengthen their arguments to impress, not the judges but the general public.
It will not benefit the lawyers across the board. In any case, the theory is that that it is open court and the lawyers, if interested, can be there (if they have spare time) and imbibe the wisdom of those addressing the court. If that is the purpose, they do not need the telecast. Likewise, the magistrates and judges of lower courts have their duties to attend to and would scarcely be in a position to tune into the arguments being heard in the superior court.
So, it is just mental satisfaction of the powers that be that proceedings are being telecast and that they have achieved another milestone in this era of technological advancement.
Let’s not forget the real requirement. Thre people would very much like to know what happens in the meetings of the collegium where they select their colleagues and their successors. They would very much like to know the qualifications of the probable candidates and who is backing whom and why.
The judges have claimed that assignment of cases to different benches and judges is arbitrary, and no rules are followed. The public would also like to know how the cases are allotted so that particular cases of a particular class go to the same bench.
There is another danger and far more grave and concerns the general public. Of late, the judges, sure of their impregnability, make all sorts of remarks in the open court which become staple diet of the sensation chasing media. Recall the remarks made during the Supreme Court proceedings against Nupur Sharma about setting india on fire and much worse the comments.
Accusing police of spreading red carpet for her, if need be. If these remarks were recorded, it would be played about fifty times a day by fifty TV channels to inflame the populace. The foreign countries that are inimical to our country would jump at the opportunity to really set india on fire and all because a judge could not control himself from making such remarks. Also recall that on the same grounds and the same arguments, the same bench later accepted the plea of Nupur sharma which they had forced the lawyer of Nupur Sharma to withdraw. But the recording cannot be erased like that by subsequent rethinking.
In these circumstances, it is nothing but a gimmick to steal some limelight and headlines in the media. The danger is much more severe than any benefits that may have been envisaged.
KK Sethi, a 1963 batch IAS officer borne on the Madhya Pradesh cadre, has had an illustrious career. He was Chairman Board of Revenue Madhya Pradesh, Chief Secretary Manipur, and head of the National Commission for Linguistic Minorities (NCLM)