The Impact of Social Media on the Justice System: A Comprehensive Overview

Justice JK Maheshwari, a judge of the Supreme Court, recently addressed the International Lawyers’ Conference 2023, providing a thorough analysis of the implications of social media on the justice system. He highlighted that social media can be perceived from three different perspectives: positive, negative, and balanced, each with its own consequences for the legal community and society as a whole.

From a positive standpoint, Justice Maheshwari emphasized the ways in which social media can facilitate greater connectivity between advocates, judges, and the community. It allows for a better understanding of social dynamics and societal issues, fostering a stronger bond between the justice system and the public. Moreover, social media serves as a powerful tool for disseminating legal awareness, making legal information easily accessible to the general public. It also ensures equitable access to information, regardless of geographical remoteness. Additionally, the introduction of e-hearings and live streaming of court proceedings through social media promotes transparency and accessibility.

Several positive examples were cited Justice Maheshwari, including the Nirbhaya rape case, where social media movements played a crucial role in raising awareness and ultimately leading to changes in the law. During the COVID-19 pandemic, social media helped expose issues such as hoarding and black marketing of essential supplies, prompting legal action and positive outcomes. Public discussions on social media surrounding the Sushant Singh Rajput case resulted in the framing of guidelines for media coverage on sensitive matters and improvements in legal processes. Furthermore, the functioning of e-courts during the pandemic allowed India to efficiently handle a high caseload.

However, social media also has negative implications for the justice system. Justice Maheshwari highlighted how social media trials can create negative and prejudiced narratives in the minds of legal professionals and society based on incomplete or inaccurate information. Legal functionaries may face excessive trolling and criticism from individuals with limited knowledge of the facts, leading to unjustified public opinions. Moreover, stakeholders, including judges and parties involved, may suffer from defamation and invasion of privacy through the unregulated dissemination of information on social media. The influence of social media may even introduce bias in a judge’s decision-making process as they may feel pressured to align with public sentiment.

One negative example mentioned was the Gyanvapi Mosque case, where social media played a significant role in creating a communal problem, with different communities interpreting events differently. This led to threats against judges and intervention the Supreme Court.

Finally, Justice Maheshwari acknowledged the balanced impact of social media on the justice system. The live streaming of events through social media platforms enables quicker responses to incidents or crises. Prompt reactions and sharing of videos and evidence, as seen in the Manipur violence case, ensure access to justice for victims.

In conclusion, social media has a multifaceted impact on the justice system. While it facilitates connectivity and the dissemination of legal awareness, it also presents challenges such as biased narratives, defamation, and privacy invasion. It is crucial for the legal community and society at large to navigate these implications carefully to ensure a fair and just legal system.

– E-hearings: Legal proceedings conducted electronically through online platforms.
– Live streaming: Broadcasting real-time video or audio content over the internet.
– Defamation: The act of damaging someone’s reputation through false spoken or written statements.
– Invasion of privacy: Unauthorized intrusion into someone’s private matters or personal life.
– Bias: Prejudice in favor of or against a particular person, group, or idea.

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