Chief justice of Jammu and Kashmir high court has directed judicial officials to restrict their usage of Facebook saying it has the potential of sending wrong signals to the "public in general and litigants in particular".
"It has come to the knowledge of the chief justice that some judicial officials have developed a practice of Facebook-friendship-club culture with advocates and members of the civil society, which has the potential of sending wrong signals to the public in general and litigants in particular," reads the order issued by Mohammad Yousuf Akhoon, principal secretary to the chief justice.
"The CJ has desired to convey to the judicial officials of the state that they must have decent of conduct in their private life and don't act in a manner which is unbecoming of a member of the judicial service… If a judicial official is found in misdemeanor of such kind, he will make himself liable to action under conduct rules," said the order.
Akhoon said the order, which was issued on August 27 at the directions of chief justice N Paul Vasanthakumar, came after some instances were brought to the notice of the CJ where judicial officials were seen sharing and liking posts including those of advocates.
"If a particular judicial officer starts liking and sharing posts of a particular advocate, then there is a strong possibility that a litigant having case in the court of the judge will try to engage this particular advocate, assuming him to be having some 'relation' with the judge. It is against the principal of justice, as justice should not be only done but seen to be done," Akhoon told Hindustan Times.
The J-K high court has 10 justices, against the strength of 17, and 240 judges in subordinate courts. There are about 5,000 practicing lawyers in the state.
"Judges should not even be members of any club. They are supposed to be above board. Any activity on Facebook comes in the public domain, so some restriction should be imposed. It should be applicable to even retired justices also as many of them become members of the Commissions formed by the government," said Ajay Singh Manhas, an advocate in the high court.
Some lawyers, who did not wished to be named, said a few advocates and judicial officers even share information in coded language using social media.