While many countries are thinking to live-stream the court proceedings of their respective courts, Pakistan is happy with the status quo, it seems, as the Supreme Court office has returned a petition seeking live broadcast of the hearings of matters of public importance. The petition that a senior member of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Raheel Kamran Sheikh, moved would have proved instrumental, and landmark had the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) entertained it. The apex court could have taken the petition under article 184(3) of the constitution for the subject matter of the petition affects the public at large. The reasons that the registrar office cited for returning the plea are not very convincing.

In various countries across the world live streaming of court proceedings is an accepted practice. Furthermore, asking the court for making the live stream of cases of public importance will educate the masses on legal points and ensure accountability and transparency. To increase accessibility to courts and enhance transparency of judiciary, many countries all across the world have permitted variants of recording of proceedings of their courtrooms.

While some states allow live streaming, the others have agreed upon video recording that is published in a few days. There are also differences in terms of forums from which such recordings are permissible; for example, countries such as the United Kingdom only have live streaming from their Supreme Court, whereas Canada now agrees to live stream proceedings from its trial courts as well.

While the Pakistani legal system is built on the concept of open courts, which means that the proceedings are open to all members of the public, the reality is different. On any given day, only a handful of people can be physically present and are allowed in the courtroom. The apex court should, therefore, give a thought to the request made in the petition considering all the arguments made above.

Not only the apex court’s proceedings should be live-streamed the operations of the Parliament also need to go live stream. The people of the country reserve every right to know what the court decides on the matter of national importance and what the parliament decides on issues of utmost importance. Only making the live streaming of the proceedings of the two most important institutions of the country can ensure people’s right to information. Eventually, the trickle-down effect of the right to information will ensure fairness and put a stop on arbitrariness in government’s functioning.