Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Supreme Court Justice Abhay S Oka has advised judicial officers against pursuing contempt actions in response to social media comments. He asked them to maintain a strong mindset and focus on delivering judgments. Justice Oka pointed out that social media remarks on platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and X were transitory and should be overlooked by judicial officers. Justice Oka was replying to concerns raised by judicial officers during the 10th Biennial Madhya Pradesh State Judicial Officers Conference regarding the potential impact of social media comments on the judiciary's functioning.
Social media try to create fear and pressure on the judiciary, so the judicial officers should remain very cautious in their interactions on these platforms. As social media comments are short-lived, the judicial officers should disregard them, understanding their potential impact on legal proceedings. Around 7000 crore messages circulate worldwide on social media every day, Said the Supreme court Judge while speaking on the concluding day of the conference held at Ravindra Bhavan on Sunday. “It is not possible to avoid social media but Judicial officers should refrain from making comments on social media platforms,” he added.
Citing an example, the Justice said that the Bombay High Court in 2018 had transferred the case from a judge after a lawyer's Facebook post on the court judgment. “In a strange case of one's social media behaviour affecting legal proceedings, a division of Bombay High Court had ruled that a principal judge was not wrong in transferring a case after a lawyer commented on the judge’s post on Facebook,” said justice Oka. He also gave the example of the arrest of Shah Rukh Khan’s son by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
After Aryan Khan’s arrest, social media was flooded with comments but the court granted bail to Aryan on the basis of merit. Even the CBI did not file any charge sheet and had the judiciary worked under influence of social media, Aryan would have been in jail with the dreaded criminal, Justice Oka said. Similar was the situation during the Arushi Murder case hearing. Social media tried building pressure on the judiciary but judges went by the law, he added.
When judicial officers raised concerns about dealing with political inclinations within judges' WhatsApp groups, the supreme court judge advised them against making personal comments in social media or WhatsApp groups. Justice Oka said that as human beings, judicial officers naturally participate in WhatsApp groups but maintaining the dignity of the legal profession they should refrain from engaging in discussions that could jeopardize their professional integrity.