Speaking at the International Lawyers’ Conference 2023, Justice JK Maheshwari, judge of the Supreme Court, provided a comprehensive overview of the impact of social media on the justice system.
He emphasized that social media can be viewed from three perspectives: positive, negative, and balanced. Each perspective has its own set of implications for the legal community and society at large. In his address, he first provided with the following–
Connecting with the Community: Social media enables advocates and judges to stay connected with the community, fostering a better understanding of social dynamics and issues affecting society.
Spreading Legal Awareness: It serves as a powerful tool for disseminating legal awareness, making legal information more accessible to the general public.
Equitable Access to Information: Social media ensures convenient and equitable access to information, irrespective of geographical remoteness.
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E-Hearings and Live Streaming: Social media has led to the introduction of e-hearings and live streaming of court proceedings, promoting transparency and accessibility.
Nirbhaya Case: Social media movements played a pivotal role in raising awareness about the Nirbhaya rape case, ultimately leading to changes in the law.
COVID-19 Pandemic: During the pandemic, social media helped highlight issues such as hoarding and black marketing of essential supplies, prompting legal action and positive outcomes.
Sushant Singh Rajput Case: Guidelines for media coverage on sensitive matters were framed, and legal processes were improved as a result of public discussions on social media.
E-Courts: The functioning of e-courts during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed India to handle a high caseload efficiently.
Prejudiced Narratives: Social media trials can create negative and prejudiced narratives in the minds of members of the legal profession and society, often based on incomplete or inaccurate information.
Excessive Trolling: Legal functionaries may face excessive trolling and criticism from individuals with limited knowledge of the facts, leading to unjustified public opinions.
Defamation and Invasion of Privacy: Stakeholders, including judges and parties involved, may suffer from defamation and privacy invasion through the unregulated dissemination of information on social media.
Bias in Judicial Decisions: Social media influence may inadvertently introduce bias in a judge’s decision-making process, as they may feel pressured to align with public sentiment.
Gyanvapi Mosque Case: Social media played a significant role in creating a communal problem surrounding this case, with different communities interpreting events differently. Threats to judges and intervention by the Supreme Court were unfortunate consequences.
Quicker Responses: Live streaming via social media can lead to faster responses to events or crises, as exemplified by the prompt reaction to incidents like the Manipur violence, where videos and evidence were shared widely. The same resulted in access to justice being ensured to victims. (Live Law)