In a landmark judgment in 2018, the Supreme Court allowed Indian Courts to implement live court streaming. In the judgment, the apex court accepted that live streaming of courtroom trials would uphold the legitimacy of the judicial proceedings, enhance the effectiveness of the Indian judicial system, and hence boost public confidence in the judiciary.
Following this landmark judgment, many courts came forward with their initiatives to livestream courtroom proceedings via free-to-use streaming platforms like YouTube. However, these platforms provided little to no content security. Also, the courts did not have any significant control over who could watch the content and who could not. There was no setup to manage and archive the recordings of the live feed too.
To combat these limitations, the Supreme Court of India passed another statement, in which the judges agreed that live streaming via platforms like YouTube was a temporary arrangement. The Supreme Court felt the need for a more secure courtroom live-streaming setup which could give more control to the courts.
This statement led the courts in India to incline towards custom-curated Courtroom Live Audio-Visual Streaming Solutions (CLASS). Madhya Pradesh High Court’s live courtroom streaming solution is a major example of one such project, where the live streaming setup was implemented for all the courtrooms in the entire state for the first time in India.
Powered by Muvi’s Courtroom Live Audio-Video Streaming Solution, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has successfully started live-streaming court trials for all 210 district and tehsil courts across the state.
In this blog, we will discuss how other Indian High Courts can also implement the Courtroom Live Audio-Visual Streaming Solution, along with audio-visual recording and archiving of the trials. So, let’s get started!
Need for Live Streaming of Courtroom Proceedings in India
In India, live streaming of courtroom proceedings holds immense potential for transparency, accountability, and accessibility within the judicial system. As rightly pointed out by the Supreme Court of India, Live streaming can play a crucial role in increasing the faith of the public in the Indian Judiciary, as any common citizen can easily access the courtroom trials to understand and study the proceedings.
Live streaming fosters transparency by making the judicial process visible to the public. It demystifies legal proceedings and enhances public understanding of how courts function. This can help build trust in the judiciary and discourage perceptions of bias or secrecy.
Live streaming will bring Judges, lawyers, and witnesses under greater scrutiny, potentially leading to more careful and ethical judgments. Since the public can observe and evaluate courtroom arguments, it deters misconduct or manipulation.
Live streams provide journalists with immediate access to proceedings. It enables more accurate and informed reporting of court cases.
Lawyers and litigants residing in remote areas can access and participate in proceedings remotely. It will save time and expense associated with physically attending the court hearing. This can improve access to justice for rural communities and those with disabilities.
Live streams can be archived and used as educational resources for law students, legal professionals, and the general public. This can promote legal literacy and foster a greater understanding of the law.
Recording audio and video of proceedings can potentially reduce reliance on paper transcripts, saving time and resources. This can streamline court administration and make evidence more readily available.
A searchable archive of live streams can serve as a valuable public record for future reference and research. This will benefit legal scholars and historians.
Increased Public Awareness
Live streaming can increase public engagement with the judiciary, fostering a more informed and active citizenry.
It can deter frivolous lawsuits and encourage out-of-court settlements by increasing public awareness of legal proceedings.
Live streams can promote international understanding of the Indian legal system.
Court Live Streaming in India: How It Started?
Court Live Streaming in India has an interesting and ongoing history. It all started with YouTube and a few selected hearings. However, with advanced technologies in place, this process has seen gradual progress in the recent past. And many ongoing discussions about its scope and implementation are promising a brighter future.
Early Steps (2018-2021):
In 2018, Justice Chandrachud, who was the then Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, initiated the first experiment with live-streaming through YouTube. However, this was limited only to selected case trials back then.
In 2019, The e-Committee of the Supreme Court of India set up a sub-committee to study the feasibility of live-streaming court proceedings.
In 2020, The Chief Justice of India proposed live-streaming as a measure to increase transparency. He advocated using it to increase public access to justice during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, concerns about privacy and witness protection led to limited implementation of this process at that time.
Momentum Building Phase (2021-2023):
In September 2021, Gauhati High Court became the first high court in India to launch live streaming of most of its court trials regularly via its official YouTube channel.
In December 2021, the Jharkhand High Court followed the same process and began live-streaming all their court proceedings on YouTube.
In September 2022, Telangana High Court began a test run.
In October 2022, The Supreme Court of India, in a landmark initiative, started live-streaming Constitution Bench hearings on its official website. It was probably the first time when an Indian court was using its own website to livestream court proceedings.
In December 2022, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and Patna High Courts commenced live streaming. Madhya Pradesh High Court became the first Indian High Court to start live streaming live court trials for all the courts in their state through their in-house system and own website.
Ongoing Discussions and Developments:
In January 2023, The Supreme Court agreed to consider suggestions for a uniform platform for live-streaming court trials. This platform will be open for all courts where they can live stream their trails. It will also address copyright concerns.
In October 2023, the Supreme Court geared up for its first-ever seven-judge bench live stream.
In recent years, mostly post-2022, CLASS has taken the central stage in courtroom live streaming in India. Let’s give you a bird’s eye view of what this CLASS solution is.
What is Courtroom Live Audio Visual Streaming Solution (CLASS)?
CLASS stands for “Courtroom Live Audio Visual Streaming Solution”. It ensures the collection of high-quality audio and video data from the courtrooms, encodes and processes them in central video monitoring systems, adds metadata to them, and then sends it to an on-cloud live streaming server that executes the live streaming.
Any citizen can access these live streams and hear the courtroom trials from any part of the country, without any need to physically visit the court. Hence, it increases transparency in the judicial proceedings.
Muvi, in coordination with its ecosystem partners, is able to provide such end-to-end deployable courtroom live-streaming solutions that can be easily set up and used by any judicial institution across the globe.
How can Indian High Courts Implement Live Streaming in Courts?
To implement courtroom live streaming in Indian High Courts, the courts would need a detailed technical setup. Along with technology, they will also need to train their staff, adhere strictly to the legal framework, and take care of privacy concerns.
The following are the major aspects associated with this process.
1. Technology Infrastructure
The technical infrastructure for courtroom live streaming involves complex VMS, C4i, CDN, and Live Streaming Servers, along with multiple other hardware and software requirements.
Some of the most prominent components of the technical infrastructure include:
Hardware: High-definition CCTV cameras, microphones, audio mixers, and recording equipment to capture proceedings.
Software: Stream encoding and management software, video monitoring systems, content delivery network (CDN), and recording/archiving capabilities.
Network connectivity: High-bandwidth internet connection for live streaming and secure data transfer.
Cybersecurity: End-to-end security measures including Firewall, WAF, Data Security, User Security, and Video Security with DRM as well as RBAC, User management, and MFA-based user access control.
We will discuss setting up the technical infrastructure in detail in our upcoming sections.
2. Selecting a Reputable Streaming Provider
Live streaming servers will form the backbone of this entire CLASS ecosystem. There are many lucrative options available, but selecting one of them will involve considering the following factors:
Technical expertise: They must have adequate technical expertise that is needed to stream high-profile events, especially legal proceedings, to millions of viewers.
Security and compliance: They must have proven security systems in place. Their security infrastructure must include DRM, Dynamic and Forensic Watermarking, IP address tracking, Screen Recording Protection, Geo-Blocking, and more! They also must strictly adhere to relevant legal and regulatory requirements.
Scalability and reliability: Their streaming server must have the ability to handle fluctuating audience size, reduce buffering, and ensure uninterrupted streaming.
Experience: They must have prior experience in live-streaming legal proceedings to a large audience.
If you are thinking about which streaming platform can meet all your needs, then let me tell you about Muvi Live.
Muvi Live is world-renowned for offering perfectly scalable, buffer-free, and secured live streams. They are already a part of the Madhya Pradesh High Court Live Streaming Project, so they have sufficient experience in the legal live streaming space too!
3. Legal Framework
Courtroom live streaming in India must adhere to certain rules and regulations that are set up by the Supreme Court of India and other regulatory bodies. Some of the major legal obligations include:
Model Rules: The courts must adopt model rules drafted by the e-Committee of the Supreme Court of India. These rules primarily address privacy concerns, redaction procedures, and contempt of court provisions.
Transparency and Openness: The courts must clearly define policies for selecting cases for live streaming. These policies are necessary for balancing transparency with sensitive information protection.
Regulations for Media Coverage: The courts must also set guidelines for media access to live streams. If needed, they can also set limitations on content sharing to uphold fair trial principles.
4. Consent and Privacy
In many instances, live court streaming in India gets hindered due to the privacy concerns by witnesses and consent to live stream the statements of every person. Hence, the court must consider the following aspects while implementing courtroom live streaming:
Obtaining Informed Consent: The court authorities must try to seek consent from parties involved in cases before live streaming commences.
Redaction of Sensitive Information: When needed, the live streaming handlers must be able to blur faces, mask voices, and anonymize details of witnesses.
5. Security Measures
Ensuring the security of video content and streaming platforms involves multiple technical procedures, including Encryption, Access Control, and Security Audits.
Controlled by the Court: This custom solution is deployed by the courts themselves. Hence, they are supposed to be in complete control of live streaming, recording, archiving, on-demand streaming, and storage. They should be able to decide what is streamed and how it is presented, who can access the streams, and when to turn on or turn off the streaming. In short, they must have complete control over the entire process.
Encryption: The live streaming content must be DRM-encrypted. It will help protect the data from unauthorized access.
Access control: Multi-factor authentication and user authorization systems to limit access to authorized personnel.
Choosing the Right Streaming Platform – Key Features and Considerations
It’s now time to choose the streaming platform, or better call it the Live Streaming Engine, that will be used to live stream court proceedings.
While choosing the right live streaming server or platform for courtroom live streaming in India, you must make sure that it has certain features like security, user accessibility, access control, cross-platform support, multi-lingual support, and more!
Let’s take a look at the most crucial considerations and features:
1. Security and Compliance
The courts must choose a platform with built-in DRM encryption to protect sensitive information during transmission and storage.
The platform must also offer secure user authentication and access control mechanisms, with Single Sign On. They should also have the tools to assign role-based permissions to authorized personnel or admins to manage streams and viewers.
And when it comes to legal live streaming in India, compliance with Indian data privacy laws like the Information Technology Act of 2000 is also important.
Also, choose a platform that can offer storage and processing of data at your preferred location. If the data is migrated outside the country for processing, there can be chances of data leakage.
2. User Interface and Accessibility
The platform must offer high-quality video streaming with minimal latency, even for low bandwidth connections. Because in India, a large section of the audience lives in tier-3 cities and rural localities.
The platform must also ensure accessibility for disabled viewers with features like audio descriptions and closed captions.
As the viewers might use their mobile devices for streaming, the platform should offer seamless streaming across multiple devices and platforms, including desktops, mobiles, and tablets.
Lastly, in a country like India, where the language changes at every corner, the live streaming platform must support multiple languages, especially Hindi and other regional languages prevalent in the court’s jurisdiction.
3. Customization and Integration Options
The platform should allow easy scheduling, recording, and metadata management of courtroom proceedings. The player should be customizable as per the requirements of the court. Integration with court video-audio capturing devices and video archiving systems should be seamless and efficient.
4. Technical Support
Opt for platforms with robust technical support teams available 24/7 to handle any technical issues during live streams. Hence, in case of technical issues, the support engineers will be able to resolve the issues then and there, ensuring continuous live streams.
5. Performance Monitoring and Scalability
One of the major aspects of live streaming in India is scalability. With a country of over a billion people, you need to be prepared for a sudden unexpected surge. That is why, built-in CDN should be an integral part of the live streaming platform, which will help handle viewership and ensure scalability.
Also, choose a platform that offers detailed analytics and performance monitoring tools to assess stream quality and identify potential issues proactively.
5. Local Expertise
Consider collaborating with technology providers based in India who understand the specific needs and regulations of courtroom streaming in India.
One such platform, that probably offers all these features and more, is Muvi Live. Along with its ecosystem partners, Muvi Live offers everything Indian courts would ever need to implement courtroom live streaming. Let’s now understand their CLASS solution in a bit more detail with a real example of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
How Muvi Helped Madhya Pradesh High Court in Live Streaming Their Courtroom Proceedings?
Muvi, in collaboration with its ecosystem partners, offered a multi-layered CLASS solution to the MP High Court, that took care of everything from video capturing to monitoring, and from streaming to archiving.
We can break down the entire setup into five major segments:
Production and Live Streaming
Courtroom Metadata Mapping
Court Case Recording and On-Demand Video Streaming
Archiving and Storage
The entire setup has been summed up in the diagram below.
1. Production and Live Streaming
The high-definition cameras and microphones installed inside the courtrooms capture high-quality audio and video content of courtroom trials. This data is then sent to a Video Monitoring System (VMS) that efficiently integrates with the courtroom camera setup.
This VMS then processes the feed and converts it into RTSP/HLS/MPEG-DASH feed, which is then transferred to the cloud live streaming engine of Muvi Live. Muvi Live is responsible for encoding it, securing it using DRM encryption, and then distributing it as a live feed to the users via CDN.
2. Courtroom Metadata Mapping
Before transferring the feed to the cloud, metadata gets integrated into the feed using advanced API integration with Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and intelligence (C4i) software.
This software sends relevant metadata to Muvi Live Streaming Engine, like case details, timestamps, and participant identities, and improves the overall organization and management of courtroom data. In addition, C4I software also provides triggers to Muvi Live to start, stop, pause, or discard the live stream.
3. Court Case Recording and On-Demand Streaming
All the live streams are recorded by Muvi Live’s live-streaming engine in real-time. These recordings are made available as on-demand videos after the livestream has ended. Hence, the users can access all these videos later, whenever they want or need.
4. Archiving and Storage
Muvi Live seamlessly integrates with Local Media Asset Management Systems (MAM), which are used for the archiving and storage of videos by Muvi’s ecosystem partners.
5. End User Interface
Muvi has also helped the Madhya Pradesh High Court to develop its own custom user interface via which the viewers can access the live streams. This user interface takes care of user registration, authentication, and user login. It offers multiple menus, categories, and filters too.
Challenges, Legal and Ethical Considerations
Over the years, some key challenges and ethical considerations have hindered the path of live courtroom streaming in India. Let’s take a quick look at some of them.
Privacy concerns, especially for witnesses and sensitive cases, remain a key issue even today. In the past, many cases could not be live-streamed because of similar issues.
Infrastructure and technical limitations in the courts need to be addressed properly. There are still many courts in India that lack the adequate technical infrastructure needed to initiate the courtroom live-streaming process.
Developing a uniform policy and platform across all courts is crucial. Presently, there are no such policies, but the Supreme Court of India has published some model rules, that can be followed by other courts as well. There are discussions going on regarding a uniform rule book for live streaming of court cases in India.
To Sum Up
Courtroom live streaming in India is in its starting days, and there is still a long way to go. But the positive side is that more and more courts are now showing interest in implementing custom courtroom live-streaming solutions. And Muvi’s ready-to-deploy Courtroom Live Audio-Video Streaming Solution will help them implement live streaming of court cases effortlessly, on their custom website, using their own custom setup.
Muvi, along with its ecosystem partners, has already successfully implemented Courtroom Live Streaming for the Madhya Pradesh High Court. In coordination with its partners, Muvi takes care of everything from processing the camera feed to adding metadata, and from live streaming to archiving. The customized user interface or website developed with Muvi’s help lets authorized users access the live streams and recorded court proceedings, in a secure manner.
Muvi’s Courtroom Live Audio-Video Streaming Solution is an end-to-end deployable courtroom live-streaming solution that ensures video processing, metadata addition, live streaming, recording, and archiving of the courtroom proceedings.
Live courtroom streaming is important for Indian High Courts because:
This ensures transparency and accessibility of court trials, hence democratizing access to justice.
It enhances the legal literacy of common citizens by offering insights into courtroom processes and precedents.
It enables remote participation in trials, hence reducing physical travel.
The following challenges are associated with live courtroom streaming in India:
Privacy concerns, especially for witnesses and sensitive cases.
Infrastructure and technical limitations in the courts.
Lack of uniform policy and platform for courtroom live streaming.
Written by: Debarpita Banerjee
Debarpita is a Content Writer with Muvi. With around 2 years of experience in content creation, she has worked across industries like SaaS, EdTech, eLearning, AR-VR, and Metaverse. She believes in delivering content that can be of some value to the readers. In her free time, she likes to try her hand at website and app development.
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