Specious jury of social media

Our generation has got a new instrument in its hands: The instrument goes by many names and gets a new name every few years. That instrument drives its life from the majestic power of the Internet, and it has no brain of its own; it works as per the command of the user’s brain. Whenever a piece of news comes out, without verifying the veracity of the same, that user is either fuelled by rage or becomes a part of the herd being led by some learned jurymen of social media.

It is very often that the so-called learned, educated, liberal jury of social media comes to the rescue of oppressed, who at the end of the proper trial comes out to be a perpetrator in the best-case scenario. This article which I am writing may attract undue criticism from self-acclaimed crusaders of liberalism but I must write in contempt of this jury of social media working behind screens, destroying reputations since its inception. To every coin, there are two sides: one is to be praised while the other should be buried fathoms below the ground.

Our generation has got a new instrument in our hands from an early age; the instrument goes by many names and gets a new name every few years. That instrument drives its life from the majestic power of internet, and it has no brain of its own; it works as per the command of the user’s brain. Whenever a piece of news comes out; without verifying the veracity of the same, that user is either fuelled by rage or becomes a part of the herd being led by some learned jurymen of social media.

There have been countless posts which went viral on the internet. Many of them have led to reforms and are to be applauded, they form the bright side of the coin. The other side of the coin, which is not so bright, is run by the learned jurymen of social media and is committed towards spreading either hatred or misrepresenting the facts to catalyse a conclusion which would not have reached if the facts were analysed in toto with an application of mind.

One of the fresh examples of misadventures of this brigade is Sarvjeet Singh Bedi, who was falsely accused by a Jasleen Kaur of molesting him at a traffic signal in Tilak Nagar, Delhi in August 2015; trial went on for 4 years during which she migrated to Canada while accused suffered the wrath of social media which inevitably led to social boycott however some people came forward to his rescue once trial commenced. Thankfully, in the October of 2019, he was acquitted of those charges. The fallibility of social media verdicts is that those people who shared such unverified claim of harassment suffer no consequences, and neither the one who made false accusations with the intent to harm his reputation through the massive reach of social media.

There is another recent case where a 17-year-old boy committed suicide in Gurugram after a girl made serious allegations against him on Instagram. When they checked his Instagram account, they were surprised to see that the minor girl had made serious allegations against him without any evidence. The girl had levelled false allegations against him due to which he faced social ostracization and was trolled by several others with a mammoth of hate messages. He probably unable to deal with them and went under depression, the father has alleged in his complaint.

This has now been a trend on social media, where many start sharing unverified or unproved bits of information; this inevitably leads to the defamation of the accused, who may even not be guilty. This is a disrespect of law and courts, but things haven’t stopped at it. Those social media jurymen are now at the throat of the judiciary, trying to mount pressure upon the Hon’ble Courts to bend down to their demands and their definition of justice, which I without any hesitation say, is flawed at its every corner.

Latest attempt to demean the judiciary can be seen at various social media platforms where it is being discussed that the Hon’ble Gauhati High Court granted divorce in Bhaskar Das v. Renu Das; Mat.App. 20/2019 just because women refused to wear ‘sakha and sindoor’. Those who are sharing or commenting upon this, have they even bothered to go through the text of the judgment? Judgments are not read or analysed in pieces, they are to be gone through in whole to understand the context and meaning of every word.

Let me assist the jurymen of social media on the text of the judgment, as an amicus.

Firstly, the women had filed a fake against her husband, his widowed step-mother and his sisters under section Section 498(A) of Indian Penal Code. The husband and his family members were compelled to apply for pre-arrest bail because of the said criminal case filed by the wife. He along with his family members were acquitted by the trial court. At this juncture, it is pertinent to mention that the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a recent judgment being Rani Narasimha Sastri vs. Rani Suneela Rani, 2019 SCC Online SC 1595 has held that filing of criminal cases like case under Sections 498(A) IPC etc. against the husband and the family members and which are subsequently dismissed/rejected by the Family Court, is sufficient to be construed as an act of cruelty by the wife. The fake complaint, even if considered in isolation, is a very valid ground for the decree of divorce to be passed.

In the background of the complaint filed under section 498(A), the husband contended that the wife compelled him to execute a written agreement to the effect that the couple will stay in a separate rental house together away family members were not to be permitted to come and visit them. The wife categorically admitted in her cross-examination about the presence of the said clause in the said agreement (It is shown below in cross-examination).

Secondly, let us see what the women said in her cross-examination. I’ll mention the relevant piece for the sake of brevity:

-That I am not wearing/putting sindoor right now because I don’t consider him as my husband.

– That it is not a fact that we entered into an agreement after the F.I.R.

-That I have objection regarding divorce in this case as because either he come to Dibrugarh to live with me or otherwise fulfil my demand i.e. monetary demand, only then I will divorce him.”

This shows that she removed her sakha and sindoor as a mark for her desire to end the marriage.

From the last point which I mentioned in cross-examination para, it looks like extortion is going on through filing of fake cases against her husband. When she in her cross-examination, and evidence states it clearly that her removing sakha and sindoor is the symbol of her unwillingness to continue in a marital relation with her husband; there remain no gaps in her intention of getting separated from her husband, and the same was considered was the court as a corroborating evidence not as the primary evidence for granting of the divorce. A fake case under Section 498(A) of Indian Penal Code is enough for the divorce to be granted.

Further perusal of the judgment will inform you of her conduct of separating her husband from his family and not even allowing them to visit him, which she has categorically admitted. It is noteworthy that the widowed step-mother of her husband has no personal source of income and she is a senior citizen and is dependent; therefore, the husband is bound by Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 to provide for his mother, and the attempt to keep her away from him with no visitation rights is cruelty, at the very least even if we ignore her stopping her husband to perform his statutory obligations.

She has also filed a case against him under Sections 471/420 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, which are still pending before the court.

She appears to be determined, armed with legal counsel, to extort money out of her husband and make him suffer unreasonably, her evidence and cross-examination stands tall proof of her wicked conduct.

When she herself is admitting in cross-examination that she took off her sakha and sindoor as she no longer considers him her husband, there is no space for the interpretation in that statement for courts. Hon’ble High Court simply referred to this statement of hers in order to corroborate their decision of allowing the appeal.

This is a classic case of misuse of laws by disgruntled wife against the husband; and the social media jury’s reaction of condemning the Hon’ble Judges is a classic example of ‘scandalising of court’, by bringing down the courts respect in eyes of common men and women.

Rhea Chakraborty’s media trial is another example of negative examples of over-active jury of social media. The actress has not yet even been tried by the Hon’ble Court let alone convicted and the whole social media led by a few jurymen went on to assail the reputation of actress and subjected her to mental stress and trauma. This cannot be allowed to happen; people must understand that there is no absolute right of freedom of speech and expression, it is subject to just and reasonable restrictions. The matter is currently sub-judice so it would not be proper for me to comment anymore on it.

I can only hope that this practice of social media will be depreciated in future, and learned jurymen of social media are sacked from their self-claimed judicial roles.

Social media is a place which can be used for much more than spreading hate and misinformation against the Hon’ble Court or some innocent person.