Media trial a dangerous trend: Aryama Sundaram

Senior advocate in conversation with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now

GN Bureau | September 28, 2021


#judiciary   #Aryama Sundaram   #law   #Media   #judicial activism  


There is a danger in media doing trials of ongoing cases and this must be stopped, says senior advocate Aryama Sundaram.

He castigated media trials and said nowadays in media while a case is going on you have debates where people are discussing what is right and what is wrong, which way the court should decide which way it should not.

“This is the danger. In the doctrine of sub-judice … when the matter is sub-judice it ought not to be commented upon. You can comment on it, reporting what has taken place. You cannot give opinion on result or proceedings… technically this should not be correct at all and has to be put a stop to… once the matter goes to court and in the course of hearing giving an opinion on its likely outcome is certainly wrong, the media should not encourage it at all.”

Watch the video:



Sundaram was in conversation with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now, in a webcast as part of Visionary Talk series held by the public policy and governance analysis platform.   

Responding to a question if celebrities when caught in legal soup are more vulnerable to harsh judgments vis-à-vis a common man, the lawyer said it is a misnomer that celebrities get the wrong end of the stick. The fact of the matter is that celebrities also get tremendous lauding and society give them tremendous advantages. The downside of it is that if you go wrong anywhere, then the brickbats are much higher as compared to someone who is unknown.

“If it is a celebrity, media attention is on the case. The court has then the duty to show that law will be subserved. In many ways it is also faith in the judiciary which demands the judiciary to lay down the law with an iron hand in such cases.”

He said a celebrity who is taking all the privileges should be ready when he does something wrong to take the punishment which comes in. “You cannot claim the privilege of not being punished for any transgression on your part.”

On the question of the human resource crunch in the judiciary impacting justice delivery and how the infrastructure can be stepped up in Indian courts, he responded by saying that in India various appellate forums that have been given statutory tenancy to have elaborately long arguments in interlocutory matters in existing cases are taking far too long to complete, so there is the question of touching the backlog of cases.

Sundaram said that even if shortage of judges has been removed in the country and even if all the courts were in full complement, he does not see the courts clearing the backlog. “It is not something that is practically possible, especially because cases that have more immediate relevance today here and now are coming up repeatedly and courts are forced to deal with those cases on a day-to-day basis.”

Giving the example of cases that came up during Covid which could not have been pushed back or put in the queue, he said there are too many cases that require here-and-now attention of superior courts. “Because of that the backlog of the supreme court and the high courts, even with full complement, it is most likely to keep occurring and I don’t see how we can get rid of that backlog even if we run with full complement,” he said.
    
Sundaram also said the time taken in arguments by lawyers for the purpose of any case or matter has to be cut short completely. He also said that the government must learn how much to appeal. The government sets up all the tribunals which are manned by the government and selected between the judiciary and the executive. About 50%-70% pending appeals in India against tribunal orders are by the government. “The government should learn not to become just another litigant. If you keep doing that, how do you ever expect not to have a backlog, leave alone hearing the matter? The government has to look at it very strictly and courts too have to strictly look at the time they will give a counsel to argue,” he said.

While speaking on ethics and the independence between the judiciary and the executive, he said, “We have to rest assured and believe in the integrity of the judges. Merely because after they retire they may head some tribunal or the other ought not to be ground to make them deal with cases in any other manner than absolutely independently.”

Asked if judicial activism exists because of inability of the executive to take right decisions, he said there is a doctrine of separation of powers. “Because there are too many public interest litigations (PILs) filed which are more personal interest than public interest and impinge on policy issues, there is an accusation of judicial activism.” Law, he said, is very clear that the judiciary will not involve in policy issues unless it is a rarest of rare cases and the policy violates a fundamental right. “The Lakshman Rekha must be maintained.”

Asked if e-courts are able to facilitate deliver justice effectively or if physical appearance is more effective, Sundaram said e-courts are more than able to deliver functions assigned to them even when the nuances of physical presence are more effective and the litigant himself is not fully satisfied and would rather prefer a physical court to actually see what is going on in court. However, he said, e-courts are a great start. “This time virtual hearing is absolutely excellent to the extent that senior counsels are being accused of liking it as they can appear in a number of cases in a number of courts all over. So long as the superior judiciary are themselves prepared to do the case before the case is taken up, I think virtual hearing is more than sufficient to dispense justice,” he said.
 

Comments

 

Other News

Many roles of civil society during pandemic

The union government enforced a nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020 to curb the spread of coronavirus as it was causing large-scale infection and disease. Challenges of pandemic management and levels of distress were revealed during this time. The fear of Covid spread like wildfire and a

Thackeray launches three fast-track DNA units under Nirbhaya scheme

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has launched three state-of-the-art human DNA units under the Nirbhaya Scheme for efficiency in criminal investigations. A wildlife DNA unit in Nagpur makes Maharashtra the country’s first state to have a forensic testing lab for animals.  

How foreign policy has been Modi’s focus right from the start

The Midway Battle: Modi’s Roller-coaster Second Term By Gautam Chintamani Bloomsbury / 400 pages / Rs 699 Gautam Chintamani, a film historian and author, has penned an in-depth chronicle of prime minister Narendra Modi’s second

Remove unauthorized constructions without pressure: Thackeray to BMC

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has instructed the Mumbai civic authorities to take immediate action on unauthorized constructions on war footing. In a virtual meeting held on Wednesday, Thackeray said no illegal construction will be tolerated in Mumbai and called upon the BMC to

Covid norms relaxed; Mumbai restaurants, shops to remain open longer

After extending timings of shops and restaurants as well as the reopening of cinema halls and theatres under specified SOPs from October 22, in view of the festive cheer, the Maharashtra government has allowed restaurants and eateries to remain open till 12AM and shops and establishments to function till 1

Global Hunger Index data collection flawed: Arvind Panagariya

Rubbishing the recently released Global Hunger Index 2021, wherein India has slipped to 101 position to be placed below Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, Arvind Panagariya, professor of economics at Columbia University and former vice chairman, NITI Aayog, has said that data collection and methodologies used

Visionary Talk with Dr Arvind Panagariya, Professor, Columbia University & Former VC, NITI Aayog



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter