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Indian Supreme Court and social media

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Today’s hot news in India’s “Live Law” is the “Supreme Court of India Is Fed Up With Trolls; and Orders Govt To Regulate WhatsApp, Facebook”.

The supreme court of India does not like criticism leveled against their working style, slow speed of progress, and pending judicial issues. They forget their duty as the guardian of the Indian constitution and guarantee of freedom of speech. They only need to read Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution — “All citizens shall have the right of free speech.” They can broadcast their views by using any platforms using loudspeakers, megaphones, Print Media, and now social media.

Let us remind ourselves that in old days it was the loud voice and good hearing, then came megaphones and then loudspeakers with stereo sound, print media, leaflets, and now online media from computer to smartphone in your pocket just a few feet away.

Some of lower court judges’ popularity index ranks below the “used car salesmen”. Judiciary is just another branch of the government, no higher or nor lower in any democracy. There are no shortages of complaints against the executive branch of the government on social media. The people are free to hurl insults against the Prime minister and Presidents. So, what makes the judges, so pious?

We just lambasted the cricketers who lost the match to Pakistan, although it is a game of sport and many ground conditions can influence the victory or defeat. What social media does is to develop high tolerance against criticism thus making you “thick-skinned”.

During the hearing of a case about the regulation of social media, the top Court said, “Why should someone be able to troll me and spread lies about my character online.”? He opined that he is fed up with technology and expressed his desire to quit smartphones. If the judge is personally attacked, there are avenues to address by filing a libel suit but not throwing their weight around by gagging free speech.

Judges should employ the same route and remedy that a normal citizen goes through and prove damages to another independent judge that how his reputation is damaged and the extent of it to seek relief. If people don’t regard them as reputable, then that will be a great disappointment.

Kapil Sibal, a congress renegade and a lawyer, who was appearing on behalf of his client “WhatsApp” stated that “this would be a wise decision” to calm the irritated judge. What else he can say other than administering the tranquilizing doze.?

The government cannot defy the constitution that extolls the virtue of free speech and liberty of media. The supreme court upheld those principles several times.

The only great idea that comes out of this farcical scene is for the judge admitting that he should get rid of smartphones but if he does then he will be missing many other things.

Social media is here to stay. No government can stop it. Any attempt to stop it, the people will find ways to get around it. Even “tight lip” China cannot block 100 percent of news and videos. What needs to happen is the judges need to be desensitized through training courses.

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