Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday expressed strong disapproval of legal activists making objectionable comments about judges who do not pass favourable orders on their petitions, calling it a "disturbing new trend".
Mr Prasad was addressing a function organised to mark the inauguration of a new building of the Patna High Court by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, in presence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, among others.
"We can surely criticise the reasoning of a judgement. But, I foresee a new trend which I need to flag today", Mr Prasad said referring to "grossly unfair" comments on social media against judges by those who file PILs and feel aggrieved when the judgement is not favourable.
Asserting that the judges of India, be they of the Supreme Court, the High Courts or the district courts must be given the freedom to decide a case as per their knowledge of the law and that though people were free to come up with their own analyses that was critical of a verdict, "trolling" and "agenda setting" were not acceptable.
"I had been thinking of making my concerns public. I chose to do so here", said Mr Prasad who also made a mention of having practiced, as a lawyer, at the Patna High Court and his current tenure as the local MP.
The Union minister, who also holds the portfolios of Electronics and Telecommunications, also referred to the recently issued guidelines for using social media which was "long overdue".
"We are supportive of freedom. We are supportive of criticism. We are supportive of dissent, too. But, the issue is the misuse and abuse of social media. There should be a grievance redressal mechanism for someone who is abused on the social media", he added.
The Union Law Minister also spoke of the proposed establishment of All India Judicial Services, "a work in progress", as part of which "the best minds" would be appointed as judges after cracking competitive exams held by the UPSC "under the direction of the Supreme Court.
He also said that the government "wished to give proper reservation to SCs, STs and OBCs" which would make the judiciary more "inclusive".
Mr Prasad also expressed satisfaction over the judiciary having risen to the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
The total number of cases digitally heard across the country, till January 31, was a staggering 76.38 lakh. Of these 24.55 lakhs were heard at the various High Courts, another 51.83 lakhs at the district courts and 22,353 at the top court.
"It is a matter of some assurance and appreciation", he asserted.