SC experiments with live transcription of its proceedings, takes major step to become ‘truly a court of record’ for posterity

The Constitution Bench proceedings will be transcribed live using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing technology from Tuesday and given to lawyers for vetting prior to uploading on the SC website

February 21, 2023 01:50 pm | Updated 08:17 pm IST - New Delhi

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on February 21, 2023 introduced on an experimental basis the live transcription of its proceedings, literally taking a major step towards becoming truly a “court of record” for posterity to watch and learn court craft.

The virtual screen live-streaming a Constitution Bench hearing of the Thackeray-Shinde dispute showed a separate screen showing the arguments and comments made during the hearing.

“At least in the Constitution Bench matter, we will have a permanent record of the arguments. Of course, it will help the lawyers, but it will also help our law colleges. They can analyse how matters were argued, what was submitted… It is a huge resource,” Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, heading the five-judge Bench, addressed the lawyers assembled in the courtroom.

Justice M.R. Shah, as a word of advice to the lawyers, asked them not to interrupt each other’s arguments, saying it would be difficult from the AI mechanism to capture all of them and make sense.

“Argue one by one,” Justice Shah said.

Chief Justice Chandrachud also agreed that it would be a “problem” if there are two more voices. “But there are personnel who will clean up the errors by evening. In the course of the day, the counsel would get the link. The counsel could also look at it. By evening they (technicians) would clean up the entire transcript and give it to us,” the CJI explained.

“We will become truly a court of record, because every word is recorded,” Justice PS Narasimha, one of the judges on the Bench, expressed his appreciation.

Justice Narasimha said there was a suggestion that anyone who wants to interrupt an argument could signal the court in order to avoid any overlap of voices.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal agreed that this would be a “great record for the court… this is wonderful”.

He added in a lighter vein that “posterity will also get to know what foolish arguments we made”.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said there were e-courts in Gujarat at the Sessions level that could even capture and record the “internal whisperings” of the lawyers.

“That is very dangerous. That is completely hazardous,” Mr. Sibal remarked.

He narrated how in the 1970s, in New York, EBT (Examination Before Trial) proceedings were recorded.

“They would record everything said in the course of examination, so that lawyers knew what was happening,” he said.

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