23 September, 2020

70 Years Of Indian Judiciary | Opinion: Resistance To Transparency Makes Our Courts Mysterious Institutions

Even after 70 years of India as a Republic, the Supreme Court is yet to launch even the modest pilot project of webcasting constitutionally important cases, write Prashant reddy and Vaidehi Misra

For Citoyens
The revolutionary tibunals set up during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution were ruthless show trials that fed hundreds to ‘Madame Guillotine’. Here, Charles Darnay is being jud ged before a tribunal in Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities.
Photograph by Getty Images
70 Years Of Indian Judiciary | Opinion: Resistance To Transparency Makes Our Courts Mysterious Institutions
outlookindia.com
2020-08-30T16:18:32+05:30

In the early 1980s, the Supreme Court famously grounded the concept of an ‘open government’ within the ambit of fundamental rights, as flowing from the right to free speech in Article 19(1)(a). The logic was that the right to free speech against the government could not really be exercised without knowledge of its workings. With the Right to Information Act in 2005, the walls of opacity crumbled slowly as eager citizens filed millions of RTI applications. Governments may have striven to put the genie back in the bottle a bit, but it is striking that no push for formal transparency was ever initiated within the Indian judiciary itself. The judiciary has two sides to it: the courtroom, where proceedings are conducted; and the massive bureaucratic complex that runs courts. It kept both its windows shut firm.

Courtroom proceedings have traditionally been open: a protocol critical to ensuring public faith. The philosopher Jeremy Bentham wrote some eloquent words on this: “In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing....

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