- The rise of social media in India
- The power of social media
- Are judges allowed to use social Media?
- Impact of Social Media on Court Cases
- Social media and Contempt of Court
The rise of social media in India
The rise of social media in India has been meteoric. In just a few short years, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp have become household names. And with over 1.3 billion people living in India, that’s a lot of potential users.Lets understand the relationship between social media and judiciary.
But social media isn’t just about connecting with friends and family. It’s also becoming an important tool for promoting social justice or brutally criticizing the institution.
The power of social media
In a country where caste discrimination is still prevalent, and women face immense challenges, social media is giving marginalized communities a voice.
Dalits, formerly known as “untouchables,” are using social media to share their experiences of discrimination and violence. Women are using it to speak out against sexual harassment and assault. And minorities are using it to challenge the Majority Extremist narrative.
Of course, social media isn’t a panacea for all of India’s problems. But it is empowering those who have historically been voiceless. And as more and more people gain access to the internet, it’s only going to become more powerful.
Social media has been a powerful tool for social justice in India. It has helped to bring about awareness of various social issues and has also been instrumental in organizing protests and rallies. Social media has also helped to connect people from all over the country and also all over the world who are working towards similar goals.
Are judges allowed to use social Media?
In India, there is no clear consensus on whether or not judges can use social media. Some argue that judges should be allowed to use social media in order to stay up-to-date with current events and trends. Others contend that social media usage by judges could lead to partiality and bias in court cases.
The lack of clarity on this issue was highlighted in a recent case in the Bombay High Court, where a division bench issued divergent views on the matter. One judge held that it was permissible for judges to use social media, while the other judge said that such usage could create doubts about their impartiality.
Given the conflicting opinions on this issue, it is likely that the final decision will be made by the Supreme Court of India. Until then, it is advisable for judges to exercise caution when using social media.
Impact of Social Media on Court Cases
The rise of social media has had a profound impact on court cases in India. In the past, only traditional media outlets such as newspapers and television channels would cover court cases. However, with the advent of social media, people can now follow court cases online and share their opinions on them.
This has led to a situation where court cases are now being heavily influenced by public opinion. In some cases, this has even resulted in judges changing their rulings based on what they see on social media. This is a worrying trend as it erodes the impartiality of the judiciary.
It is not just the general public who are using social media to influence court cases; lawyers and other legal experts are also using it to share their views on ongoing cases. This has led to a situation where the outcome of a court case can be determined by which side has better representation on social media.
The impact of social media on court cases is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently. The judiciary must find a way to maintain its impartiality despite the growing influence of public opinion.
Social media and Contempt of Court
In recent years, social media has had a profound impact on court cases in India. From high-profile criminal trials to divorce proceedings, the rise of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp has changed the way cases are tried and decided.
One of the most notable ways social media has impacted court cases is through the phenomenon of “contempt of court”. In India, contempt of court is defined as any wilful disobedience to or disrespect for the authority of a court. This can take many forms, from interrupting proceedings to making derogatory comments about judges on social media.
While there are no specific laws against contempt of court in India, the Supreme Court has held that it is a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code. The punishment for contempt of court can range from a simple fine to imprisonment.
In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of contempt of court in India that have been sparked by social media posts. In 2016, a lawyer was sentenced to six months in jail for making derogatory remarks about a judge on Facebook. And in 2017, a journalist was fined for tweets that were critical of the judiciary.
As more and more people turn to social media to voice their opinions on everything from politics to pop culture, it’s likely that we will see more instances of contempt of court in India (and around the world). While some may see this as a positive development (giving people a platform to hold power accountable),
Social Media and the judges – Critism of the judges on social media.
Recently the Supreme Court bench comprising Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Suryakant were brutally trolled on social media for criticizing the act of Nupur Sharma of making loose remarks on Prophet Muhammed during a television show over the subjudice matter of Gyaanvapi Mosque.
In another case, the Supreme Court Bench lead by Justice DY Chandrachud were trolled for granting bail to Alt News’s Co founder Mohammed Zubair who was arrested for making tweets in 2018 which were claimed to hurt Religous Sentiments.
In a very recent case Madhya Pradesh High Court was criticized for reducing the life imprisonment punishment to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment of convict who raped a 4 year girl child. It was held by MP High Court that the rapist was kind enough to leave the victim alive. This justification led to a massive backlash on social media against the HC Judges. Though, the criticism in this particular case was called for. The judgement is now modified.
in December 2021, the then Chief Justice NV Ramana, speaking at the RedInk Awards in the Mumbai Press Club, emphasised that “the judiciary is a robust pillar”. But the top judge said the “recent trend to sermonise about judgments and villainise judges needs to be checked”.
In 2019 also, Justice Arun Mishra (retired) said that a planned campaign was on in the social media to “malign” him while he was heading a Bench which was re-examining Justice Mishra’s own judgment on the grant of compensation under Section 24 of the land acquisition law of 2013.
Justice Mishra slammed the action on social media by observing “left to me, I would have taken a decision on the issue, but you maligned a judge and the institution on social media… if a judge is going to be maligned like this, then what is left of the institution? There is nothing personal about any of our judgments”. As mentioned in The Hindu.
In March 2021, the then Minister of Law and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, flagged the government’s concern about “social media campaigns” conducted against individual judges for their judicial opinions and judgments. Mr. Prasad criticised “some people” who file PILs in court, campaign on social media for a particular judgment and later troll judges when the verdict does not meet their expectations. He had termed it “campaign justice”.
Ex Cheif Justice of India NV Ramana, criticizing Media said that Television is running Kangaroo courts whereas Social Media is even worse. They are causing hindrances in the delivery of justice.
Media Influence on judges -Threat to judges on Social media
People on social media make such post in order to influence judges in various possible ways in order to get a desired judgement by them.
In 2019, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing Muslim parties in the Ayodhya Babri Masjid land dispute case, submitted before the Supreme Court that he had been receiving threats on social media for appearing in the matter.
“I am receiving threats on Facebook for appearing against in the case,” he submitted before a five-judge constitution bench, headed by the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
The lawyer also submitted that an Uttar Pradesh minister called Mukut Bihari Verma had said that the judiciary, administration and the nation belonged to the BJP hence the judgement will be in their favor as per The Siasat Daily
Dhavan had already filed a contempt petition against an 88-yr-old Professor in Chennai, for cursing him and threatening him to not appear before the Apex Court and to argue for the Muslim side in the case.
Even after the judgement was given, a very tight security was provided to the 5 judges of the case who gave the judgement. This was done considering growing outrage of people on social media against the verdict.
The Uttar Pradesh police has arrested 77 people, including 40 on Sunday, for allegedly trying to vitiate the atmosphere through social media posts, according to a police statement. Action has been taken against 8,275 posts including 4,563 posts on Sunday, it said, adding these had been posted on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had at the time noted that “a pattern has emerged whereby articles and social media posts appear a couple of days before an important hearing is due in the Supreme Court in a bid to influence opinion outside the court about the issue at stake… Your Lordships should consider this”.
Recently an open threat was given to Karnataka High Court judges on twitter who gave the verdict on Hijab ban. The man threatened that a judge was killed in Jharkand and don’t blame anyone if something like such happens in Karnataka too.
Following the threat, an F.I.R was filed in karnataka against this unknown person on the grounds of Information given by a lawyer called Umapathi.
Can Social Media be used to bring about Social Justice ?
Social media has emerged as one of the most influential tools for social justice advocacy in recent years. As the cost of Internet access and mobile data has dropped dramatically, social media is becoming a viable option for anyone to create a presence online. Social media platforms are a perfect way to amplify your voice, reach new audiences, and share your message with the world. They have also become an important source of data on social issues, allowing you to collect data on topics like poverty, gender discrimination, war crimes, or any other issue that you are passionate about.
One way that social media can be used to promote social justice is by engaging users in activism. For example, Twitter hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter were created to raise awareness about police violence against African American. In India hashtags like #Kisanektazindabad and #Anti-CAA were used to protest against the goverment policies.
By using these hashtags, people are able to raise their voices and show support for these causes in real time. Another way that social media can promote social justice is by collecting data on certain issues. For example, Twitter users can use hashtags like #EndPoverty to track the number of people living in extreme poverty across the globe. Social media can also be used to raise awareness about human rights violations and atrocities around the world. By creating content about these issues and sharing it with your audience, you can help raise awareness and encourage others to take action.
Also in the cases like the Bilkis Bano case where common masses of the country came together through social and condemned the act of Gujarat Government that granted remission and freed the 11 rape convicts of bilkis who were also murderers of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Even in the Unnav rape case where the culprit held a powerful position (MLA) belonged to the ruling party of the country, had to face a brutal outrage for raping a minor and killing her and her family during trial days. People protested and forced the ruling political party to dismiss him from his post. And the man is now in the jail.