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Social Media Impact on Judges


The advancement in the mode of communication has made human life very easy. Earlier the modes of communication available were very time-consuming and less efficient. In today’s world with the advancement of technology, communication has become very easy and a speedy process. The whole world is now turned into a small village considering the fact that the internet has made access to anyone and anything very simple. Social media is one such platform where people are connected. The term social media is related to computer-based technology facilitating the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through various virtual platforms. Social media is internet-based and provides users with the quick electronic communication of content, such as personal information, documents, videos, and photos. More than 4.5 billion people use social media, as of October 2021. Social media has paved the direction of how society thinks. It has become a platform for the dissemination of truth as well as lies. When everything is affected by the social media justice system and judges are no exception to it.

Independence of Judges

Judiciary being the 3rd organ of the government, it is important that it is independent of any influence from the other two organs of the government or people in general. The term is normative in a sense as it provides what courts and judges ought to possess. The independence of the judiciary is important to save the general public from any unjust treatment. The concept of independence of judges has come from England’s Act of Settlement. Independence of the judiciary is important in a country like India owing to the diversity of the population residing in India. Provisions in judiciary securing the independence of Judiciary:

  • Security of tenure. (Art.124(2))
  • Salary and allowances.
  • Power to punish for its contempt. (Art.129 in Supreme Court, Art.215 in High Court)
  • Separation of judiciary from the executive. (Article 50)
  • No practice after retirement.

With great powers of the judiciary comes great responsibilities upon the judges.  Indian Judiciary in the Chief Justices’ Conference, 1999 laid down several principles and these were accepted by all the High Courts.  Justice must not only be done but it must also be seen to be done. The working members of the higher judiciary must sustain and reaffirm the people’s faith in the impartiality of the judiciary. Keeping this in mind Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court, in any capacity whether official or personal capacity, erodes the credibility of the Indian justice system has to be avoided. A Judge should not participate in the election to any office of a Club, society or other association; further, he shall hold elective office only in a society or association which is related to the law. Close association with those who practice in the same court shall be avoided. A Judge should not permit any member of his immediate family if a member of the Bar, to appear before him or even be associated in any manner with a cause to be dealt with by him.

No member of his family, who is a member of the Bar, shall share the same residence with him or use any other facilities provided to judge for professional work. A Judge shall avoid hearing and deciding a matter in which a member of his family, a close relation or a friend is concerned. A Judge shall be extra vigilant while entering into public debate or expressing his views in public on political matters or on matters that are pending or are likely to arise for judicial determination. He must avoid situations where he has to give interviews to the media. A Judge shall not accept gifts or hospitality from anyone other than his family, close relations and friends. A Judge should not engage directly or indirectly in trade or business (Publication of a legal or any activity in the nature of a hobby shall not be construed as trade or business).

A Judge must not engage himself in contributions or raising of any fund for any purpose. A Judge should not seek any extra financial benefit in the form of a privilege because of his office unless it is clearly available. Any doubt arising in this context must be resolved and clarified through the Chief Justice. Every Judge must always keep this thing in mind that they are always subjected to the public gaze owning to this fact they must act or omit in a manner that does not result in depreciating the reputation attached to the occupation. The Preamble of the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, 2002, laid down the principles that are intended to establish standards for the ethical conduct of judges. These guidelines put forward guidance to judges and regulate judicial conduct. The main aim of the principles is to assist members of the other two organs of the government along with the general public to support the judicial system in India.

Media Trials

Social media has become a platform that does not circulate facts but rather matters that can help them gain TRP. Protracted debates and discussions are held that are merely based on speculation, which hurts the rights of witnesses and the accused. The Freedom of speech and expression that is provided under the Article 19(1)(a) has been misused again and again. The criminal jurisprudence followed in India is based on the theory that any accused cannot be held guilty until his guilt is not proven in a court of law. Social media circulates views that may or may not be true about both the victims and the accused.  

The media does not consider the principle that governs trials in India which is “Guilty beyond reasonable doubt” and “Innocent until proven guilty”. It puts a burden on the trial courts which have the duty to minimize the effects of prejudicial publicity. Continuous remarks from such social media platforms can force judges to take decisions in the favour of the media rather than what is actually demanded in the case. Recently we saw in the Nupur Sharma case the bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Pardiwala during the hearing of the writ petition being filed made oral remarks which led to many personal attacks on the judges. Sometimes the general public fails to understand the questions asked in the courtroom are conscientiously for fulfilling the requirements of the law. Media can only circulate the words of the judges without knowing the contexts for the same which impacts the private lives of the judges.

Impact of social media

Judges are also normal citizens of the country and like any other citizen of a country they are also free to use social media but they must bear in mind that their active participation requires careful consideration. Judges must comply with the legal and ethical ramifications keeping in mind the nature of their profession. Positive aspect of social media is that it brings closeness, and openness in the society but at the same time any posts of judges are subjected to misrepresentation or misinterpretation of the content posted by them, or even led to cyberbullying and threats to privacy and safety. In 2011, the International Bar Association Legal Policy & Research Unit (IBA LPRU), conducted a global survey to consider the impact of Online Social Networking (OSN) on the legal profession.  

The survey conducted to measure the impact of OSN on the legal profession revealed that judge use of social media raised specific concerns, 40% responded that judges’ use of OSN negatively affected public confidence in the justice system and undermined judicial independence. People have access to the words said by judges by most of them lack the knowledge of the law and they fail to interpret the actual meaning behind the rationale given by judges. Support for judicial use of social media is made apparent by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

He supports the idea of social media platforms involving in spreading of thoughts, views and knowledge. Judges must be given complete independence to give judgment as to what they decide keeping in mind the rule of law. Media -trials have become commonplace in India. Before a case is decided in a court of law people already have passed their judgment about the matter about which they have no idea. Judges must keep in mind how they are portraying themselves on social media. They must not give any comments regarding the case they are hearing in court. In 2014, IBA’s Legal Policy and Research Unit (LPRU) published its International Principles on Social Media Conduct for the Legal Profession. Pros and cons of the use of social media and guidance regarding judicial conduct and ethics are given in this research.

There is a need to regulate the disclosure of judicial proceedings because those who do not have the knowledge of law forget the fact that law has no space for sentiments. Judgments are passed keeping in mind all the legal aspects and there are meager chances that the judgment can be biased. Criticizing any judgment on legal grounds is acceptable in a democracy but criticizing judges and giving them personal remarks accounts for defamation. Maintaining their oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India, and sustaining the dignity of the office they hold, Judges have to turn deaf to any criticism. In the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, it was discussed that in order to bridge the gap between a fair comments on any judgment and personal comments on judges there is a need for education, training and recommendations on how social media can affect its users.


Judiciary is a body responsible for adjudicating law. It has the power that provides justice to the victims. For the proper functioning of the judiciary, it is important that it does not have an undue influence on anyone. Its proper functioning is important to maintain harmony in society. Judges are social workers and any judgment passed by them is based on as per the rule established in law and with due deliberations. Their judgments must not be made a tool to attack them personally, as it is against the justice system.


  1. › terms › s “Social Media: Definition, Effects, and List of Top Apps” -…Accessed on 13 September, 2022
  2. Data Reportal. “Global Social Media Stats October 2021”Accessed on 13 September, 2022
  3. › act-settlement-0The Act of Settlement | The Royal Family
  4. › columns › social-media-and-the Social Media and the Judiciary – Bar and Bench

This article is written by Rishita Vekta, B.A.LLB(H) 2nd Year, from Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida U.P.

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