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Judiciary

Use of social media to interfere with administration of justice needs serious consideration: SC [Read Judgment]

By Jhanak Singh      11 April, 2024 05:44 PM      0 Comments
Use of social media to interfere with administration of justice needs serious consideration SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has cautioned against tendency to distort comments made by judges during the course of arguments, on social media under the guise of freedom of speech and expression as such acts may amount to cause prejudice to the proceedings or interfere with the course of administration of justice.

"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," a bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi said. 

The court said it required serious consideration whether such comments can be allowed particularly more by one who is a party to the proceedings.

"Though, our shoulders are broad enough to bear any blame or criticism, the comments or posts published in respect of the matters pending in the court, through social media platforms under the guise of right to freedom of speech and expression, which have the tendency of undermining the authority of the courts or of interfering with the course of justice, deserves serious consideration," the bench said.   

The bench issued contempt notice to an MLA from Assam Karim Uddin Barbhuiya for making a Facebook post on March 20, 2024 when the court reserved its judgment in a matter arising out of an election petition filed against him by Animul Haque Laskar. 

The court pointed out 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. 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 cause prejudice to the proceedings or interfere with the course of administration of justice," the bench said.

Laskar filed a contempt petition against the MLA for he made the post “the Hon’ble Supreme Court has ruled in his favour and that the allegations brought against him to defame him have fallen flat. He has been right this whole time, and it’s those who brought allegations against him, have been proved as liars.”

Appearing for Laskar, senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, contended the MLA had attempted to interfere with the proceedings pending before this court.

"When the matter was reserved for judgment, he could not have published such post on his Facebook account, and this was clear attempt to interfere with the court’s proceedings and administration of justice," he said.

On this, the bench said, "We prima facie find substance in the submissions made by the senior counsel for the petitioner."

The court sought a response from Barbhuiya within four weeks and posted the matter before the CJI for setting up an appropriate bench.

It initiated proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 read with Rule 3(c) of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of Supreme Court, 1975. “A copy of this order be furnished to the Attorney General for India also. Notice be made returnable after four weeks. Let the alleged contemnor remain present on the returnable date. Registry to place the matter before the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India for appropriate orders, if required to do so for listing before the appropriate Bench,” the court said.

Separately, on April 8, 2024, the court had dismissed the election petition filed by Laskar against Barbhuiya as he won the poll from the Sonai legislative assembly constituency in Assam.

[Read Judgment]



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