Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Saturday said the media has of late been running kangaroo courts on issues that even experienced judges find difficult to decide, Bar and Bench reported.
“Ill-informed and agenda-driven debates on issues involving justice delivery are proving to be detrimental to the health of democracy,” the chief justice said while addressing an event at Ranchi’s National University of Study and Research in Law.
Ramana, who will retire next month, said that the media has breached its responsibility and is taking democracy two steps backwards.
“Biased views being propagated by media are affecting the people, weakening democracy, and harming the system,” he said. “In this process, justice delivery gets adversely affected.”
The chief justice also observed that the print media still had some degree of accountability, but the electronic media did not have any accountability as “what it shows vanishes into thin air”. He remarked that social media was even worse.
Ramana said that the media should not “invite interference” from the government or courts by overstepping its boundaries. “Judges may not react immediately,” he said. “Please don’t mistake it to be weakness or helplessness.”
It is best for media to self-regulate and “measure their words”, he added.
Attacks on judges
At Saturday’s function, the chief justice said that in recent days there had been an increasing number of physical attacks on judges, NDTV reported.
“Politicians, bureaucrats, police officers and other public representatives are often provided with security even after their retirement owing to the sensitiveness of their jobs,” he said. “Ironically, judges are not extended similar protection.”
Ramana said that there was a need to strengthen the judiciary and empower judges in order to ensure a vibrant democracy.
Ramana’s comments came days after Supreme Court judge Justice JB Pardiwala on July 3 had said that personal attacks on judges can lead to a “dangerous scenario”.
“Social and digital media is primarily resorted to expressing personalised opinions more against the judges, rather than a constructive critical appraisal of their judgements,” Pardiwala added. “This is what is harming the judicial institution and lowering its dignity.”
Pardiwala was part of a bench that came down heavily on suspended Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her remarks on Prophet Muhammad. Her comments led to a spate of violence and unrest across several parts of the country.
On July 1, Pardiwala along with Justice Surya Kant had said that Sharma was single-handedly responsible for the tensions and that she should have apologised to the nation.
The Supreme Court’s oral observations received flak on social media. A plea was also filed demanding that the observations made against Sharma be withdrawn.