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Supreme Court voices concern over ‘profuse’ misuse of social media platforms

By, New Delhi
Apr 11, 2024 05:01 AM IST

Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud had recently shared an incident in which he was the target of “trolling” and “vicious” abuse on social media.

The Supreme Court has raised a serious alarm over the misuse of social media platforms, denouncing the spread of factually incorrect and unfounded statements regarding pending cases.

The top court initiated a contempt action against Assam legislator Karim Uddin Barbhuiya for his misleading Facebook post. (Hindustan Times)
The top court initiated a contempt action against Assam legislator Karim Uddin Barbhuiya for his misleading Facebook post. (Hindustan Times)

Initiating a contempt action against Assam legislator Karim Uddin Barbhuiya for his misleading Facebook post regarding a case reserved for judgment, the top court expressed dismay at the growing trend of social media misuse, which under the guise of freedom of expression, tarnishes the integrity of the Court and sowed misinformation among the masses.

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“It is a matter of serious concern that nowadays there has been a profuse misuse of social media platforms on which the messages, comments, articles etc. are being posted in respect of the matters pending in the court,” lamented a bench of justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi in its order on April 8.

Though the shoulders of the judges are broad enough to bear any blame or criticism, the bench noted, comments or posts published in respect of the pending cases, through social media platforms under the guise of the right to freedom of speech and expression, deserves serious consideration since they may have the tendency of undermining the authority of the courts or of interfering with the course of justice.

“It is very usual that the Judges do react during the course of arguments being made by the lawyers, sometimes in favour of and sometimes against a party to the proceeding. However, that does not give any right or leeway to either of the parties or their lawyers to the proceedings to post comments or messages on the social media distorting the facts or not disclosing the correct facts of the proceedings,” held the bench.

Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud had recently shared an incident in which he was the target of “trolling” and “vicious” abuse on social media for just moving his seat during a hearing of the electoral bond case. The video widely shared on social media platforms claimed that he walked away in the middle of the ongoing case hearing.

Speaking at a judicial conference in Bengaluru last month, the CJI, however, expressed faith in the judiciary’s commitment to carefully serving the common folks notwithstanding the unjustified backlash. He remarked: “Our shoulders are broad enough, and the common citizens are the ones who have the most faith in the work that we do.”

In the present case, the bench initiated contempt proceedings against Sonai MLA Barbhuiya for his March 20 Facebook post falsely claiming a favorable ruling from the court in an election petition whereas the court had on that day only reserved its judgment in the matter. On April 8, the court allowed Barbhuiya’s plea and quashed the election petition filed against him by another candidate in the 2021 assembly polls fray but simultaneously show-caused him for contempt of court due to his Facebook post.

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“The matter is required to be taken up more seriously when any such attempt is sought to be made by the party to the proceedings to cause prejudice to the proceedings or interfere with the course of administration of justice,” it said, directing the presence of the MLA from All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in the court at the next hearing.

It listed the matter next after four weeks, asking the registry to place the matter before the CJI for appropriate orders on the administrative side for listing the case before the appropriate bench.

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