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Supreme Court expresses serious concern over wide misuse of social media to comment on pending cases

Initiates contempt proceedings against an Assam politician who allegedly presented distorted version of its proceedings on Facebook

Supreme Court expresses serious concern over wide misuse of social media to comment on pending cases

Photo for representational purpose only. Reuters file



Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, April 11

Expressing serious concern over wide misuse of social media for commenting on cases pending before courts, the Supreme Court has initiated contempt proceedings against an Assam politician who allegedly presented a distorted version of its proceedings on Facebook.

“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 led by Justice Aniruddha Bose (since retd) said.

“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,” it noted.

“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 top court said.

“We prima facie find substance in the submissions made by the learned senior counsel for the petitioner,” the Bench said, issuing a contempt notice to All India United Democratic Front leader Karim Uddin Barbhuiya who represents Sonai assembly constituency in Assam.

The order came on a petition filed by Congress leader Aminul Haque Laskar, who was defeated by Barbhuiya in the last Assembly election from Sonai, complaining that his rival wrote in his Facebook post on March 20 that the top court had ruled in his favour while the court had simply reserved its verdict.

Barbhuiya had allegedly posted that “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.”

Asking Barbhuiya to respond to the contempt notice in four weeks, the Bench ordered that a copy of its order be furnished to the Attorney General for India.

The order came after senior counsel Jaideep Gupta submitted on behalf of Haque that by publishing such a post on social media like Facebook, Barbhuiya has attempted to interfere with the proceedings pending before this Court.

“When the matter was reserved for judgment, the alleged contemnor could not have published such a post on his Facebook account, and this was a clear attempt to interfere with the Court’s proceedings and administration of justice,” Gupta submitted.

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