‘Judg­ing is ‘un­der stress’ in dig­i­tal era’

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Nation - let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: Judg­ing is “un­der stress” in the dig­i­tal era, a Supreme Court judge said on Sun­day, lament­ing that even be­fore a case is taken up by the court, peo­ple start dis­cussing on so­cial me­dia what the out­come “should be” which has an in­flu­ence on the judges.

Talk­ing on “Free­dom of press in the dig­i­tal age” at the first Law As­so­ci­a­tion For Asia and the Pa­cific (LAWASIA) con­fer­ence here, Jus­tice AK Sikri said free­dom of press is chang­ing the par­a­digm of civil and hu­man rights and the cur­rent pat­tern of me­dia tri­als is an ex­am­ple of it. “Me­dia tri­als were there ear­lier also. But to­day what is hap­pen­ing is that when an is­sue is raised, a pe­ti­tion is filed, (and) even be­fore it is

It is not so much in the SC be­cause by the time they come to the apex court they are quite ma­tured and they know how the case is to be de­cided on the ba­sis of law ir­re­spec­tive of what is hap­pen­ing in the me­dia

AK SIKRI , Jus­tice

taken up by the court, peo­ple start dis­cussing what should be the out­come. Not what ‘is’ the out­come, (but) what ‘should be’ the out­come. And let me tell you from my ex­pe­ri­ence here that it has an in­flu­ence on how a judge de­cides a case. “It is not so much in the Supreme Court be­cause by the time they come to the apex court they are quite ma­tured and they know how the case is to be de­cided on the ba­sis of law ir­re­spec­tive of what is hap­pen­ing in the me­dia. To­day judg­ing is un­der stress,” Jus­tice Sikri said.

He said the power of con­tempt of court is not be­ing used that much. “Few years ago, it has al­ways been an opin­ion that once a judg­ment was ren­dered by the court, be it the Supreme Court, high courts or any trial court, you have ev­ery right to crit­i­cize the judge­ment. Now there is slan­der or defam­a­tory speeches even against judges who gave that judg­ment. And still not much is said on this,” Jus­tice Sikri said.

Ad­di­tional So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral Mad­havi Go­ra­dia Di­van, one of the speak­ers at the con­fer­ence, also ex­pressed her con­cur­ring views and said that on so­cial me­dia, there is a huge blur be­tween news and fake news.

“It is all right to an ac­tivist be now and then. But when one has ap­peared on those cases, ar­gued in those cases, tweet­ing im­me­di­ately af­ter (hear­ing) can con­flict with your pro­fes­sional du­ties,” she said. Di­van said though the re­quire­ment is that one needs to be an ac­cred­ited jour­nal­ist to be able to re­port from the Supreme Court, “for the rest, there is Twit­ter”. “There is a cer­tain shal­low­ness to Twit­ter. “I think it can put the judge un­der pres­sure be­cause the judges as much as they are trained to de­cide shorn of me­dia reportage, we know they are as hu­man as any­body else and we should not dis­tract them from de­cid­ing in­de­pen­dently,” she said.

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