Govindacharya seeks audio recording of Ayodhya land dispute hearing

Former RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya filed a plea in the Supreme Court on Friday seeking audio-recording of the day-to-day hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya.

Govindacharya, in his interim application filed in the pending petition, has also sought a direction that a copy of the audio-recording of the proceedings be also provided to litigants along with the transcript of the proceedings.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which is hearing the Ayodhya land dispute, had on Tuesday rejected his plea seeking live streaming or recording of the case.

In his interim application, he has said that the court should protect fundamental right of all the citizens to access justice.

"The court is the protector of fundamental rights of all citizens. Hence, the petitioner is submitting the present application for the protection of the fundamental right to access justice," Govindacharya's plea said.

The plea said it was understood that live streaming of cases would require institutional changes but audio recording of proceedings was a cheaper and more efficient mechanism.

"For an audio recording, only few microphones are required in court, which can be placed at appropriate places. The said audio can then be made into a transcript through automated services, requiring minimal human intervention. The above audio-recordings along with the transcript can be provided to parties upon suitable application and payment of fee to the Registry of the Court," it said.

The plea also mentioned that the apex court's last year June 25 order, which allowed journalists to carry mobile phones inside court rooms, said an unofficial record of proceedings was being made through tweets, and therefore, why couldn't the top court not create an authentic official record of the proceedings.

"Hence, allowing the audio recording and making of transcript may not require any amendment in the Supreme Court Rules, 2013. On this subject, Government of India has stated in Lok Sabha that the implementation shall be undertaken by Registry of this Court," the plea said.

It said that the court was hearing the matter on miscellaneous days, including Fridays and Mondays, which shows that it was dealing with the Ayodhya matter extraordinarily, therefore, audio-recording could be "started immediately".

Govindacharya in his pending petition had referred to apex court's last year verdict of September 26, by which it had allowed live-streaming of court proceedings of cases of constitutional and national importance, saying this openness was like "sunlight" which is the "best disinfectant".