Judg­ing is ‘un­der stress’ in dig­i­tal era, laments se­nior Supreme Court judge

Millennium Post - - Front Page -

NEW DELHI: Judg­ing is “un­der stress” in the dig­i­tal era, a Supreme Court judge said 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 in­flu­ences the judges.

Talk­ing on “Free­dom of the press in the dig­i­tal age” at the first Law As­so­ci­a­tion For Asia and the Pa­cific (LAWASIA) con­fer­ence here, Jus­tice A K Sikri said the free­dom of the 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 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 in­flu­ences 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 by 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.

“A few years ago, it has al­ways been an opin­ion that once the court ren­dered judg­ment, be it the Supreme Court, high courts or any trial court; you have ev­ery right to crit­i­cise 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 mas­sive blur be­tween news and fake news, news and opin­ion, cit­i­zens and jour­nal­ists.

Di­van said one of the chal­lenges was that with the growth of Twit­ter, lawyers had be­come ac­tivists too. And in that quest for ac­tivism and star­dom, she added, one should not eclipse one’s pro­fes­sional du­ties as the ca­su­alty would be the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary and mat­ters would be de­cided for the “wrong” rea­sons.

“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.

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