New Delhi: Ill-informed and agenda-driven kangaroo courts on television debates and social media on issues involving justice delivery are proving to be detrimental to the health of democracy, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said on Saturday.
“Of late, we see media running kangaroo courts, at times on issues even experienced judges find difficult to decide. Ill-informed and agenda-driven debates on issues involving justice delivery are proving to be detrimental to the health of democracy,” said the CJI while delivering the Justice SB Sinha Memorial Inaugural Lecture in Ranchi. On the issue of the rising number of media trials, CJI Ramana said, “It cannot be a guiding factor in deciding cases”. He said, “New media tools have the enormous amplifying ability but appear to be incapable of distinguishing between the right and the wrong, the good and the bad and the real and the fake.”
Chief Justice Ramana also cautioned that the judges may not react immediately and this should not be mistaken for weakness or helplessness.
“Biased views being propagated by media are affecting the people, weakening democracy, and harming the system. In this process, justice delivery gets adversely affected,” the CJI added.
“By overstepping and breaching your responsibility, you are taking our democracy two steps backwards. Print media still has a certain degree of accountability. Whereas, electronic media has zero accountability as what it shows vanishes into thin air . Still, worse is social media,” he said.
The CJI also highlighted that these days, there is an increasing number of physical attacks on judges.
“Can you imagine, a judge who has served on the bench for decades, putting hardened criminals behind the bar, once he retires, loses all the protection that came with the tenure? Judges have to live in the same society as the people that they have convicted, without any security or assurance of safety,” the CJI pointed out.
The CJI also commented on the long-standing matter of contention of the judicial review of legislative and executive actions.
“One gets to hear that judges, being unelected, should not get into legislative and executive arenas. But this ignores the Constitutional responsibilities that is placed on the judiciary. Judicial review of legislative and executive actions is an integral part of the Constitutional scheme. I would go as far as to state that it is the heart and soul of the Indian Constitution. In my humble view, in the absence of judicial review, people’s faith in our Constitution would have diminished,” he said.
“Only a flourishing and vibrant democracy can lead our country on the path of peace, progress and global leadership. And a strong judiciary is the ultimate guarantee for the rule of law and democracy,” CJI Ramana said.