New Delhi: Justice JB Pardiwala, part of the Supreme Court bench that castigated former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for remark on the Prophet, demanded strict regulations of social media. He also said that media trials are not healthy for the rule of law.
During a virtual address on Sunday, Justice JB Pardiwala said social media is overrun by people ‘possessing half-truth and information’ and those who don’t understand rule of law, evidence, judicial process and limitations.
“A trial is supposed to be carried out by the courts. Trials by digital media are undue interference for the judiciary. This crosses the Laxman Rekha and is all the more problematic when only half truth is pursued. Constitutional courts have always graciously accepted informed dissent and constructive criticism,” Justice JB Pardiwala said, adding that personal attacks on judges will not be tolerated. He also called on Parliament to dwell upon introducing appropriate legislative and regulatory provisions to regulate digital and social media as trials by digital media causes undue interference in the process of justice dispensation, as he cited various instances of the media crossing ‘Laxman Rekha’.
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Media trials are not healthy for rule of law, he said in his address on topic ‘Vox Populi vs. Rule of Law: Supreme Court of India’ in the 2nd Justice HR Khanna Memorial National Symposium. “Regulation of digital and social media especially in the context of sensitive trials which are sub judice, must be dwelt upon by the Parliament by introducing appropriate legislative and regulatory provisions in this regard,” he said.
Justice Pardiwalwa said a section of people, possessing half-truths, scrutinising the judicial process “are a real challenge to dispensation of justice through the rule of law. Social and digital media nowadays primarily resorted to express personalised opinions against judges per say rather than a constructive critical appraisal of their judgments”. He said constitutional courts have graciously accepted informed dissent and cited the personalised agenda-driven attacks on judges.
“This is where digital and social media needs to be mandatorily regulated in the country to preserve the rule of law and our Constitutiona. Attacks on judges for their judgments lead to a dangerous scenario,” he said. Justice Pardiwala said India still can’t be classified as a complete and mature democracy, and social and digital media is employed frequently to politicise legal and constitutional issues. Citing the judgment in Ayodhya title dispute, he pointed out that as the case was nearing the verdict, there were political overtones. “Judges deciding the dispute may get a bit shaken, which is antithetic to the rule of law. That is not healthy for the rule of law.”