Plea seeking Media access in Courts: MP High Court issues notice

  • Shruti Kakkar
  • 03:11 PM, 06 Jun 2021

The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently sought Madhya Pradesh High Court and State Government’s response in a plea seeking permission for live streaming and live reporting.

Division Bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice GS Ahluwalia while issuing notice remarked, “Can media report Court’s observation not part of rulings”and observed that the petitioners had an arguable point.

The plea preferred by journalists Nupur Thapliyal, Sparsh Upadhyay, Areeb Uddin Ahmed and Rahul Dubey working in reputed reputed online and digital print media houses challenges the constitutionality of Rule 2(xv), Rule 3(vi) read with Rule 16 of The High Court of Madhya Pradesh Video Conferencing and Audio-Visual Electronic Linkage Rules, 2020 (hereinafter referred as VC Rules, 2020).

The petitioners have argued that live reporting and streaming would enable the general public to watch the Court proceedings live and be informed about the sincere and serious indulgence of this Hon’ble Court for tackling various problems being faced by the three wings of democracy i.e. Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, as also the public at large owing to the covid-19 pandemic. 

“Attending hearing virtually, observing and reporting of the Court Proceedings must be a general rule and denial an exception, which principle has been put upside down on its head vide the impugned rules of this Hon’ble Court. Admittedly till date even after a year, there are no Rules, Guidelines, Orders issued by the administrative side by the Respondent authorities, which may determine in which cases the journalists would be allowed to attend virtual Court Proceedings, observe and report them on a real time basis and cases where it would not be permitted.”, the plea states.

Reliance has been placed on the various judgments and precedents of the Hon’ble Supreme Court especially in the matter of Swapnil Tripathi v. Supreme Court of India [(2018) 10 SCC 639], Chief Election Commission of India v. M.R. Vijayabhaskar & Ors., dated 06.05.2021 in Civil Appeal No. 1767 of 2021 (Arising out of SLP(C) No. 6731 of 2021), to aver that it is the fundamental rights of the petitioners to attend, observe, transcribe and report virtual proceedings of any matter being heard by this Hon’ble Court having public ramifications on the society.

In light of the difficulty faced by the petitioners to easily procure the joining links for attending various virtual Court Proceedings, whenever they intend to for a variety of reasons, they have sought for seeking directions to for providing access to the petitioners to the virtual proceedings of all the cases of constitutional importance, significance, subject matter of public discourse or any such case of social relevance or having social implications. 

Relief has also been sought for live streaming of all the proceedings relating to and rising out of Covid-19 pandemic, being heard by the various Benches of this Hon’ble Court on an immediate basis. 

Further the petitioners have placed reliance on the order dated 20.07.2020 passed in Pruthvirajsinh Zala v. High Court of Gujarat, W.P. (PIL) No. 99/2020 wherein the Hon’ble High Court of Gujarat directed the administrative side to take appropriate steps in a similar petition praying for live streaming of Court Proceedings in view of the judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

“Thereafter with effect from the month of October 2020, the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court has been live streaming the proceedings, at least of the Hon’ble Chief Justice’s Court and recently the live streaming of Court No. 2 has also started.”, the plea also states. 

The matter is expected to be heard on June 9, 2021.