Sunday, April 22, 2012

Justice Katju's letter to Ambika Soni on Social Media

I got this from a friend (who I shall name if he likes). I'll just say a couple of things before leaving you to it.

1. The letter shows a colossal lack of understanding of the nature of social media. Holding Twitter & Facebook responsible for user posts is like asking the sweepers in charge of Speakers' Corner at Hyde Park to censor people who speak there.

2. Perhaps it's time to junk the term 'social media' itself. For one, it'll avoid confusion for people who just don't get it. Also, as I noted in a short, earlier blog post, the term is quite limiting. On a related note, like Facebook & Twitter are more like Online Public Squares. They serve many more purposes than just being alternatives to the media.

And now for the letter (all emphasis is mine). 

Mrs. Ambika Soni,
Hon’ble Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting

New Delhi.


Dear Mrs. Soni,

I am deeply distressed that a new practice has developed in the social media of its misuse for defaming people/groups/religions/communities. The recent example is of dissemination of a CD which even the author admitted  had been distorted for defaming a reputed senior lawyer of the Supreme Court and Member of Parliament, and the threat to defame a Union Minister. The social media kept uploading the CD despite a Court injunction against it and despite the author admitting that he had doctored it.

In my opinion unless some curbs are placed on the social media nobody’s reputation will be safe in India.

I have repeatedly said that while there is freedom of the media in our country, no freedom can be absolute, and has to be coupled with responsibilities. The reputation of a person is a valuable asset, and cannot be permitted to be trampled upon by mischievous people. The social media often acts irresponsibly, which can irreparably damage a person’s reputation.

I would therefore request you to set up a team of legal and technical experts to find out ways and means of checking this menace, including, if the government thinks fit, initiating suitable legislation for this purpose, for filtering out such offensive material.

Yours sincerely,

          (Markandey Katju)


  1. Does Justice Katju really believes that the video is doctored? doesn't he know that doctoring video is not same as doctoring a picture? Lets assume that we've not seen the video, but aren't people still have right to know what kind of ministers and policians they elected? Don't he and judiciary have right to know whether the lawyer Abhishek Singvi really performed an immoral act inside the sacred temple of justice? All these are valid without CD being in social media, and Justice Katju is morally obligated to pursue Abhishek Manu Singhvi due to his association with Indian constitution and law of justice. But unfortunately he is talking against leaking CD instead. Courts can put a ban on a CD but not the truth.

  2. Where is my comment?


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