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Impact Of Social Media On Judges

The growth of communication technology has made human existence easier. Previously, the means of communication offered were time-consuming and inefficient. With the growth of technology in today's society, communication has become a relatively simple and quick procedure. Because the internet has made access to anybody and everything so accessible, the whole globe has been reduced to the size of a tiny hamlet. One such medium for connecting individuals is social media.

The phrase social media refers to computer-based technology that allows people to share ideas, opinions, and information through numerous virtual platforms. Social media is internet-based and allows users to quickly exchange material such as personal information, documents, movies, and images. As of October 2021, more than 4.5 billion people utilise social media. Social media has changed the way society thinks. It has become a platform for the spread of both truth and falsehoods. When the social media justice system affects everything, judges are no exception.

Judges Independence
As the third organ of government, the judiciary must be free of any influence from the other two organs of government or the public in general. The phrase is normative in the sense that it specifies what courts and judges should have. The independence of the court is critical in order to protect the general population from unfair treatment.

The notion of judicial independence originated with England's Act of Settlement. Because of the variety of its people, the judiciary's independence is critical in a nation like India.

Provisions in the judiciary to ensure the independence of the judiciary:
  • Security of tenure. (Art.124(2))
  • Salary and allowances.
  • Power to punish for its contempt. (Art.129 in Supreme Court, Art.215 in High Court)
  • Separation of judiciary from the executive. (Article 50)
  • No practice after retirement.
With enormous judicial powers come significant obligations for the judges. The Indian judiciary established numerous principles during the Chief Justices' Conference in 1999, which were endorsed by all High Courts. Not only must justice be done, but it must also be perceived to be done. Working members of the higher court must maintain and renew the public's trust in the judiciary's impartiality.

Keeping this in mind, every Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court, whether in an official or personal role, must avoid eroding the confidence of the Indian legal system. A Judge shall not allow any member of his immediate family, if a member of the Bar, to appear before him or be involved in any way with a case before him.

No member of his family who is a member of the Bar should occupy the same house with him or utilise any other professional facilities offered to judges. A Judge must avoid hearing and ruling on a case involving a member of his family, a close relative, or a friend. A Judge must use extreme caution while engaging in public discussion or expressing his opinions in public on political issues or issues that are ongoing or are likely to come for judicial resolution.

He must avoid circumstances in which he is required to conduct media interviews. A Judge may only receive gifts or hospitality from his family, close relatives, and friends. A Judge should not participate in commerce or business, either directly or indirectly (publication of a legal opinion or other activity in the nature of a hobby should not be considered as trade or business).

A Judge is not permitted to make donations to or raise funds for any reason. A Judge should not seek any additional pecuniary gain as a result of his position unless it is obviously attainable. Any uncertainty must be addressed and explained by the Chief Justice. Every Judge must bear in mind that they are constantly exposed to public scrutiny; as a consequence, they must behave or omit in a way that does not depreciate the reputation associated with the vocation.

The Bangalore ideas of Judicial behaviour, 2002, put forth the ideas intended to create standards for judges' ethical behaviour. These standards provide instruction to judges and control judicial behaviour. The principles' major goal is to help members of the other two branches of government, as well as the general public, support India's judicial system.

Media Trials
Social media has evolved into a platform that disseminates topics that may assist them get TRP rather than facts. Prolonged debates and discussions are undertaken that are purely speculative, endangering the rights of witnesses and the accused. The freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) has been repeatedly abused. In India, criminal jurisprudence is founded on the notion that an accused cannot be declared guilty unless his guilt is established in a court of law. Social media spreads opinions about both the victims and the accused that may or may not be factual.

The media ignores the "Guilty beyond reasonable doubt" and "Innocent until proven guilty" principles that govern Indian courts. It places a burden on trial courts, who are responsible for mitigating the impact of prejudiced publicity. Continuous comments from such social media platforms may compel courts to rule in favour of the media rather than what is truly required in the case.

In the Nupur Sharma case, the bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice Pardiwala made oral statements during the hearing of the writ petition that led to several personal assaults on the judges. The general public does not always grasp the questions posed in the courts in order to complete the requirements of the law. The media can only distribute the judges' remarks without understanding the settings in which they are used, which has an influence on the judges' private life.

Impact on Social Media
Judges are regular citizens of the nation, and they, like any other citizen, are free to use social media, but they must keep in mind that their active engagement requires careful thinking. Judges must adhere to legal and ethical repercussions while keeping the nature of their vocation in mind.

The positive element of social media is that it fosters connection and transparency in society; yet, any postings made by judges are prone to distortion or misunderstanding of the material posted by them, and have even resulted in cyberbullying and threats to privacy and safety. The International Bar Association Legal Policy and Research Unit (IBA LPRU) undertook a worldwide study in 2011 to assess the influence of Online Social Networking (OSN) on the legal profession.

The poll to assess the effect of OSN on the legal profession indicated that judge usage of social media generated special concerns, with 40% claiming that judges' use of OSN harmed public trust in the justice system and compromised judicial independence. People have access to the words of judges, but the majority of them lack legal education and fail to grasp the true meaning underlying the reasons supplied by courts. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has shown support for judicial use of social media.

He believes that social media platforms should be used to share ideas, opinions, and information. Judges must be granted entire freedom to make decisions while adhering to the rule of law. In India, media trials have grown widespread. People have already pronounced judgement on an issue about which they have no knowledge before a case is adjudicated in a court of law. Judges must be mindful of how they present themselves on social media.

They are not permitted to make any remarks on the matter they are hearing in court. The International Bar Association's Legal Policy and Research Unit (LPRU) issued its International Principles on Social Media Conduct for the Legal Profession in 2014. This study discusses the benefits and drawbacks of using social media, as well as advice on judicial behavior's and ethics.

There is a need to restrict the disclosure of court procedures because persons who do not understand the law forget that there is no room for feelings in the law. Judgements are made with all legal considerations in mind, and there are very little possibilities that the judgement will be biased. In a democracy, criticizing any decision on legal grounds is permitted, but criticizing judges and making personal comments constitutes defamation.

Judges must remain deaf to any criticism in order to uphold their oath of loyalty to the Indian Constitution and the dignity of the position they occupy. It was noted in the Global Programmed for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration that education, training, and advice on how social media might affect its users are needed to bridge the gap between reasonable comments on any judgement and personal attacks on judges.

The judiciary is the entity in charge of enforcing the law. It has the ability to offer victims with justice. It is critical that the court has no undue influence on anybody in order for it to work properly. Its correct operation is critical for societal cohesion. Judges are social workers, and whatever decision they make is based on the rules set by law and after careful consideration. Their decisions must not be used to personally attack them, since this is against the law.

  • � terms � s "Social Media: Definition, Effects, and List of Top Apps" -�Accessed on 13 September, 2022
  • Data Reportal. "Global Social Media Stats October 2021" Accessed on 13 September, 2022
  • � act-settlement-0The Act of Settlement | The Royal Family
  • � columns � social-media-and-the Social Media and the Judiciary � Bar and Bench

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