Social media is a platform an online facilitator which enhances the human network and helps individuals connect with others using the social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. With the advancement in technology, social media apps are also evolving and giving a new dimension to the apps so, now it just not only connects and communicate with people but it is now a storehouse of information and everything is available at the peoples’ fingertips, it helps to aware, educate, and help to gain knowledge. It enables them not only to read or hear the news but also make them see it. social media have both pros and cons. During the covid pandemic, social media is the only way to reach out. People ask for help through social media apps and it did not disappoint. It shares information but also spread fake news and disinformation which can cause profound consequences, bullying, trolling, abusing and so on are other negative aspects of it. Social media affects the lives of people as a greater face and it causes an impact on the judiciary system and majorly on judges to give the decision which will bring justice to the person whom social media favours.
TRIAL ON SOCIAL MEDIA
The way that society thinks now is largely down to social media. Both the truth and lies are being spread on its platform. Article 19(1)(a) gives them the freedom of speech and expression but there are some reasonable restrictions but still, it has been misused again and again. Almost every citizen has been snared by the media. This tremendous outreach makes people from every corner of this world aware of the events happening around the world and is regularly informing about the public matter. It plays a crucial role in mouldingthe mindset of the present generation. Social media can help to expose many offenders and can ask for a fair trial and justice for the victims.
But media trials can also play a vital role in instilling the victim in the minds of the common people and declaring someone as a criminal even before the investigation is over. People use social media to share their views or opinion, they write their comments, write hashtags, and make it trending on the internet. They put up polls on Twitter and other social media apps to choose their side, or is the investigation conducted without any biased or not? what should be the punishment, whether the action is right or wrong and so on. To make the news sounds interesting they (social media pages/websites) land up giving wrong /biased information and based on such information people give their judgement even before the court without knowing the actual truth behind it or verifying the news, they also assume that the court should and will also give the same judgment, and if not, they start condemning it.
Now social media has become a powerful tool for people to share their experiences and ask for justice and now it trend for people to share their incidents on social media and ask for justice. As we saw in the #metoo trend where the actress came forward to share their incidents of harassment by filmmakers or co-actors. Many incidents are true but not all. Many fake cases were also registered but in most of the cases social media only favor the victims and have some biases towards them, it harms the reputation of the accused and people also start presuming them as the culprit. Even in the Hyderabad encounter case police arrested 4 accused, and shot them dead as they are trying to run away (according to the police). People start appreciating their work many channels and news articles make them heroes. But no one care to know the actual truth behind the encounter is it real or fake? Did the police act lawfully or not, people do not bother about such questions, according to them, the police’s actions are correct and it is the only way to provide justice.
Social media trials hamper the administration process of court and their decisions. Such trials question the investigation and justice. People trust social media and have faith in their separate investigations. In high-profile cases, there is huge pressure on judges and well as on advocates there are protest on social media and in public places asking for justice. But if the decision did not come as they thought they use social media to comment/ criticize the trial and the decision. Such trials are reflecting the negative image of the judicial system.
IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON JUDICIARY
Judges are also normal citizens of the country and have the right to use social media but they must bear in mind that they must use it carefully keeping in mind the legal and ethical ramifications and the nature of the profession. Judges have some rights and duties which they need to keep in mind. On 17th may 1997, a code of conduct was issued to ensure proper conduct among members of the higher judiciary. Any act of a Judge of the Supreme Court or High Court, whether in an official or personal capacity, which erodes the credibility of the perception must be avoided. The actions and conduct of those in the higher judicial branches must restore public confidence in the judiciary’s objectivity. A judge should not directly or indirectly conduct commerce or business, either on his or her own or in collaboration with anybody else. He must always be conscious that he is under the public gaze. There should be no act or omission unbecoming of the high office he occupies.
Judges must perform their duty and act by the law and should ignore the media trials. The media can only report on the judges’ statements without understanding the circumstances of such statements, which has an influence on the judges’ private life. People did not understand the rationale behind the judgement because of a lack of knowledge or ignorance and fail to interpret the actual meaning. Judges should act with the most prudence when using this public forum because the image of the institution relies on their behaviour. The image of former chief justice S.A. Bobde riding the bike went viral on social media and there is a question about the ownership of the bike. He was also highly criticized for not wearing a helmet and a mask. Social media brings closeness and openness in society but at the same time, any posts of judges are subjected to misrepresentation or misinterpretation of the content posted by them. Judges need to be conscious of how they present themselves online. They must not share any information or give any comment on the case on social media according to the principles set up by IBA’s legal policy and research unit.
People who do not know the law forgot that there is no space for sentiments and judges pass the judgement keeping in mind the law and its procedure that need to be followed. People can criticize their judgement keeping in mind the legal grounds but cannot make personal remarks. Judges must ignore the criticisms and give a judgement which they think is correct according to law and did not discriminate in doing so. There is a need to regulate the disclosure of judicial proceedings and education, training, and awareness, on how social media can affect its users.
Social media serves as a platform to bring citizens’ voices to the attention of society and the government, however now it has a detrimental impact rather than a beneficial one. Democracy values freedom of speech and expression, but social media usage cannot be permitted to the point where it affects the outcome of the trial. Instead of tipping the scales in favor of one side or the other, social media should act as a facilitator. It is crucial that the judiciary not exert an improper amount of influence and function properly. It is important to keep the social orderand peace.Judges must abstain from media trials and render decisions in accordance with the law. Anyone who violates the code of conduct or insults the judges directly must face consequences.
Author(s) Name: Ayush Patidar