SC judge who heard Nupur Sharma’s plea bats for regulation of social media

Digital and social media need to be mandatorily regulated in the country to preserve the rule of law under the Constitution, Supreme Court Judge Justice J B Pardiwala said on Sunday, terming as ‘dangerous’ the crossing of ‘Lakshman rekha’ on these platforms for ‘personalised, agenda-driven attacks’ on the judges. The remarks by Justice Pardiwala at an event here come amid an uproar by a section over the strong oral observations of a vacation bench, in which he was a member, against suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma for her controversial comments against Prophet Mohammed. The apex court had said that her “loose tongue” has “set the entire country on fire” and she should apologise.

The observations of the bench, which had also refused to club the FIRs lodged against Sharma across the country, sparked a debate, including on digital and social media platforms, leading to some uncharitable comments against the judges also.

“In India, which cannot be classified as mature and an informed democracy, social and digital media is employed frequently to politicise purely legal and constitutional issues,” Justice Pardiwala said and gave the illustration of the Ayodhya land dispute case.

He said the trials by digital media are an undue interference in the justice dispensation system. “Crossing that ?Lakshman rekha’ many times, this is especially more worrisome,” the judge, who has recently been elevated to the top court, said.

Justice Pardiwala was speaking at the second Justice HR Khanna Memorial National Symposium organised by Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow & National Law University, Odisha along with the Confederation of Alumni for National Law Universities (CAN Foundation).

“Attacks attempted at our judges for the judgements will lead to a dangerous scenario where the judges will have to pay greater attention as to what the media thinks rather than what the law actually mandates. This puts the rule of law on the burner ignoring the sanctity of the respect for the courts,” he said.

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