Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Saturday said that agenda-driven debates and kangaroo courts being run by the media are detrimental to the health of the democracy.
Delivering the inaugural lecture instituted in the memory of Justice Satya Brata Sinha here, CJI Ramana said media trials affect 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.
”Biased views being propagated by media are affecting the people, weakening democracy, and harming the system. In this process, justice delivery gets adversely affected. breaching your responsibility, you are taking our democracy two steps backward,” he added.
Print media still has a certain degree of accountability, he said, adding that electronic media has zero accountability as what it shows vanishes into thin air.
At times, there are concerted campaigns in media, particularly on social media, against judges, he said. Owing to the frequent transgressions and consequent social unrest, there is a growing demand for stricter media regulations and accountability, CJI Ramana said.
“In fact, 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. Judges may not react immediately. Please don’t mistake it to be a weakness or helplessness. When liberties are exercised responsibly, within their domains, there will be no necessity of placing reasonable or proportionate external restrictions,” he said.
Asking media, particularly electronic and social media, to behave responsibly, CJI Ramana said, the power should be used to educate the people and energise the nation in a collective endeavor to build a progressive, prosperous and peaceful India.