Blatant reliance on social media needs to be checked by citizens themselves: CJI Dipak Misra

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Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has said the blatant reliance on social media needs to be checked by citizens themselves in order to ensure peace and order in the society.

He said there has been a rise in mob lynching incidents recently based on viral texts on social media leading to mobocracy.

The Chief Justice delivering the presidential address at a function organised by the International Law Association (ILA), where eminent jurist NR Madhava Menon delivered a lecture on “Courts, Media and Fair Trial Guarantee”. He said citizens need to be more responsible and filter the information before relying on and acting.

Justice Mishra said Indian media houses must introspect and develop a sense of responsibility and maturity. He also said that freedom of the press is the “mother of all liberties” in a democratic society and the media should have its own guidelines for self-regulation.

Justice Misra said freedom of speech played a pivotal role in generating public opinion in matters of national importance, adding that it created an informed citizenry. The CJI said the media has the responsibility of maintaining objectivity while reporting on cases that could stir the emotions of the citizens.

Mr Menon said media coverage at times posed a threat to a fair trial at three stages – prior to the trial, during the trial and after the completion of the trial. He pointed out that disclosing the identity of the witnesses and accused might affect trial in many ways. Mr Menon said a parallel trial by the media might influence an investigating agency to make arrests and might even cause witnesses to turn hostile.

He added that post-trial, the independence of the judiciary was threatened if the media questioned the integrity of the judge. Mr Menon said the recent development in the apex court regarding live-telecast of proceedings will open up a new chapter in media-judiciary relations.

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