RANCHI: Taking a grim view of agenda-driven TV debates, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said on Saturday that such high-decibel media trials on sub-judice matters impinge on the fair functioning and independence of the judiciary.
“Media trials cannot be a guiding factor in deciding cases. Of late, we see the 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,” he said while delivering the inaugural lecture instituted in the memory of Justice Satya Brata Sinha in Ranchi.
The Chief Justice was, however, quick to point out that print media still has a certain degree of accountability while electronic media has zero accountability as what it shows vanishes into thin air.
“Biased views being propagated by media are affecting the people, weakening democracy, and harming the system. In this process, justice delivery gets adversely affected. By overstepping and breaching your responsibility, you are taking our democracy two steps backward,” he added.
Commenting on the recent trend of targeting judges through social media campaigns, Ramana said judges may not react immediately but it should not be mistaken for weakness or helplessness.“Looking at recent trends, it is best for the media to self-regulate and measure their words. You should not overstep and invite interference, either from the government or from the courts… When liberties are exercised responsibly, within their domains, there will be no necessity of placing reasonable or proportionate external restrictions,” he said.
While suggesting self-regulation for media houses to prevent ‘overstepping’ and to behave responsibly, the CJI said media should use its influence and power to educate people and energise the nation.He also emphasised the need to strengthen the judiciary, saying an increasing number of physical attacks on judges are being witnessed.
“Can you imagine, a judge who has served on the bench for decades, putting hardened criminals behind the bar, loses all protection once he retires? Judges have to live in the same society as the people that they have convicted, without any security or assurance of safety,” he noted.
The Chief Justice lamented that while politicians, bureaucrats, police officers and other public representatives are provided with security post-retirement, judges are not extended similar protection.