Young lawyers make a plea for audible justice

Letter to CJI says judges should make use of mikes installed on their desks

Justice should not only be done, but also seen to be done. A group of young lawyers and law students believes it should also be heard. And heard clearly.

They want Supreme Court judges to use the microphones installed on their desks in courtrooms. Not using microphones has no “rationale” and amounts to “wastage of public money,” the lawyers said in a letter to the Chief Justice of India on October 17.

Whistle for Public Interest (WHIP), a group of practising lawyers and law students who use the Right to Information Act of 2005 to promote transparency and accountability, said court proceedings are hardly audible for lawyers, litigants and even the media present in the courtrooms as judges do not to switch on the microphones kept before them.

“Justice should not only be done, but should be manifestly and undoubtedly seen to be done,” the letter, addressed to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on October 17, said.

The WHIP letter — signed by Kapildeep Agarwal, a law student, and advocates Kumar Shanu and Paras Jain — said it would be a “travesty of justice” if the Supreme Court judges chose to ignore the microphone system before them and litigants present in the courtroom are unable to properly observe the proceedings of their own cases. The letter attached RTI replies from the Supreme Court, which show that the system was recently replaced in two phases at a total cost over ₹91 lakh. One reply given in August this year said that the sound system is an “inherent” part of courtroom infrastructure and has been in existence since the court’s inception.

The letter asked the CJI to start using the microphones within a “reasonable” period of two weeks, or they (WHIP) would consider their request as declined.

“It is very painful to note that despite a considerable amount of public money incurred in the installation and replacement of mic system in courtrooms, the Supreme Court has not been able to ensure its use for proper administration of justice,” the letter said.

Under the “open court” system of administration of justice, the public should get reasonable access to courtrooms so that they could hear as well as watch the proceedings, the letter said, pointing out that Section 153 B of the Civil Procedure Code and Section 327 of the Code of Criminal Procedure mandate “public access” to court proceedings.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 8:33:23 PM |

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