Lights, camera, arguments

A step in the right direction

A first, yesterday, with the proceedings of the Supreme Court being broadcast on live television. Barring a smattering of disagreement with the decision to broadcast the proceedings, it was met with a positive response, even by the harsh critics of the new chief justice.

An interesting viewing. And it was as if a person watching cricket for the very first time has lucked into watching an India, Pakistan or Australia, England match because it was a full court; a full court discussing a constitutional issue; a full court discussing a constitutional issue that happened to be on institutional limits. All the bells and the whistles.

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This paper is staunchly pro-democracy, not just as far as the procedural motions of democracy are concerned (which are being violated right now) but also the spirit of democracy. And, as per that spirit, this paper will support any step that brings transparency of any sort.

Caveats, there are many. Some of the previous Lordships have been known to play to the galleries at the expense of their better legal judgment. Would this literally encourage much more of the same? This is the biggest concern, but not the only one, of course. The others, like the secrecy of the proceedings in some sensitive appeal cases, can be mitigated case-to-case.

The transparency will lay bare some of the supposed brilliance of some of the big ticket lawyers in the country, specially in smaller benches. The law, unfortunately, is becoming more and more a who-you-know vocation, and it is hoped that the transparency is going to try to ward that off a bit. A bit of a jolt to both the judges and the lawyers.

We also need to start thinking about how to replicate this lower down the line. The proceedings of seven high courts across India are livestreamed across India. We’d better get to it, and work our way further down. The courts are a mess, and this is a step that could potentially keep both judge and lawyer in check.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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