The Live Tweets Ailment II

Amongst advocates, there are always the traditionalists. They imagine Live Tweeters in court when ADM Jabalpur was on going, and shiver at the thought. Ray CJI would have had none of it. The present Chief Justice seemingly does not subscribe to old world ideas. Juniors who have the time and the resources are travelling to the SC every day and unabashedly using their phones, in plain view of the CJI or his Brother Judges, to Live Tweet.

This has had some positive results. There is an increased interest in Indian Laws and their development in court. One can, from the comfort of his/her home even, reasonably follow a hearing, as it progresses, by tracking the updates from the Live Tweeter. And of course, all of us are casually inching towards the debate on live-telecast of court proceedings.

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There are negatives too. Not every hearing of import is Live Tweeted on. For an advocate, there is still no substitute to actual physical presence in court. The Live Tweeters are not accredited by any authority. Just like in a classroom nobody takes down notes the same way, there is a significant difference in the aspects of a matter that the different Live Tweeters focus on, often admitting their bias.

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To pick and choose a hearing and a Live Tweeter for the day is only contributing to sensationalist reportage, without a beginning or an end. It is not without reason that the Delhi High Court invited suggestions from the general-public on whether real-time reporting of court proceedings should be permitted. A seven-member committee, headed by Justice (Retd.) Ruma Pal is supposed to assess the suggestions. It is ironic, that Justice Pal is a [Former] Trustee of Independent and Public-Spirited (IPS) Media Foundation. [Note 1] The IPSMF has provided financial support to Live Law Media Private Limited, who were found Live Tweeting today! 

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There is a further negative, that especially concerns the Supreme Court. The tweeting phones pose a security threat. The argument was trashed by many:

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It was clear in Dharam Chand v. NDMC, [Civil Appeal No. 5779 of 2015]: “the court cannot assume and presume that there is no threat to the safety and security of the Supreme Court.” The SC must reevaluate this statement in light of today’s incident at Rohini Court Complex where an under trial was shot dead with clockwork precision.

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Live Tweeter Tweets:

The under trial is being escorted away from court. 

Twitter User, Crime Planner, at Home, Calls:

Get Ready Executioner! Any time now. 

Executioner having procured the planted gun from the court premises, waits on the route the under trial is ordained to take. He knew exactly when to take guard: 

Bang!

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Live Tweeter Tweets:

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Twitter User, Crime Planner, at Home, Calls: 

Get Ready Executioner! Any time now. 

Executioner, who knows by now the Judge will take thirty minutes or less to leave the SC premises, waits near the gate the Judge is ordained to exit from. He knew exactly when to take guard: 

Throws a Bomb! 

[There was indeed an attack like this on a Former CJI.

On March 20, 1975, at about 4.15 p.m. when the car in which Mr. Justice A.N. Ray, holding the office of the Chief Justice of India at that time, was travelling, along with… a Jamadar Jai Nand and the driver Inder Singh, stopped at the intersection of Tilak Marg and Bhagwan Dass road, at a stone throw distance from the Supreme Court of India, two live hand grenades were lobbed inside the car. Fortunately, the grenades did not explode and the occupants of the car, including the Chief Justice of India, escaped unharmed.”]

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The SC has not yet considered the point whether the general-public of India deserves real time reportage of its proceedings, especially when it renders vulnerable the actions of everyone present in court at that time. Even if Live Tweeting is to be permitted one day, it should be left to trained, chosen and guided fingers. There would be then no cause for shame or embarrassment and Live Tweeting can hope to be more than just a self-regulating, public movement.

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