We are living in a time period where our lives are not governed by us, but by the dominant classes. But how are we governed by them? It is through the rise of new media like the internet, social media. Almost all the people in the 21st century know how to use technology. This rise of new media has both positive and negative effects on our lives. But how the rise of new media effects our lives, the nature of law and justice. It is an important question, as new media has become an integral part of our lives. New media plays a very important role in our judiciary. Our judicial system has always been an independent organ, but the influence of new media did change the course of giving justice to people. We will see how new media influence has shaped the mindset of people.
New media now has become a part of everyone’s lives. It is the source of information and communication of people. People get aware of the things happening in their surroundings and around the world. But how has new media affected a country as a whole? With the rise of new media, it changed our whole course of politics in our country. The new media has become an instrument for the political parties, which they use for their election propaganda in order to attract people. The new media has created what is called ideology, the influence of ideas on people’s beliefs and actions, plays a very important role in shaping the minds of people. Ideologies are mostly shaped by people in power. Noam Chomsky a famous social critique says that media now days exaggerates issues and propagates the dominant ideas of the ruling classes (Giddens 2009, 746).
As we have seen new media has become a platform for many things, but new forms of movements started happening, like the protest. People post their own point of views and people around the world can access it. There have been various movements which have taken place, one of the prodigious movements is the #MeToo movement which startled the entire world by its strong presence and influence. This movement gave women a platform to raise their voice against sexual harassment, assault and gender inequality faced by them in their lives. This movement empowered women across the world to raise voice and fight for justice against sexual violence. The victims of harassment publicly abashed the perpetrators of sexual violence on social media. It gave rise to a new kind of feminism through which the whole world was briefed (Pipyrou 2018, 416). But here the question arises is will it affect our judicial system? I think it really does affect the judicial system. The Internet is an open platform, so anyone can accuse others of any kind of activity. People now have started victimizing the person without proper knowledge and in fact concrete evidence on the matter. Nowadays people have started making an assumption as well as putting their judgments and media shaming the person without any knowledge of the same. I strongly feel that it is a very sensitive topic which needs more than little attention and that it did get. But there is an exception, it is not necessary that whatever one writes or posts on the internet is true. Then what is the value of the courts if people themselves have decided the guilty. This diminishes the value of the judicial system which is not good for any nation. As finally, it is the court and the judges who decide the one guilty and not the general public at large.
A documentary called Nero’s guest where there is a portrayal of farmer’s suicide, we learn how the government's lack of performing in their duty highly affects the poor farmers. The documentary shows that about 2-3 farmers self-slaughter every day, but these issues never come in light, especially on the new media platform. We come across another question of why is it so? When the Pulwama attack happened 40 soldiers lost their lives, Yes, I admit that soldiers sacrificed their lives for our country but farmers are the reason for the survival of every being in the country. New media has played a very important role in the Pulwama attack. Where people started sharing their point of views and opinions on the internet, the government also reacted in a way the people wanted them to, and this whole situation of soldier’s loss being used as a tool for election propaganda. It did spread a word around the world and it became an international issue. The fact remains the same that media and new media attention is given to other issues. But what about the farmers who are dying every day. No one raises their topic, is it because they don’t belong to the upper class or their occupation is of less value compared to the soldiers. Farmers suicide is an important issue which needs to come into light and knowledge of the public, this might bring help to all the suffering farmers around the country. Both farmers and soldiers are equal in the eye of law and both serve the nation, soldiers by keeping the country safe and farmers contribute to the country’s GDP i.e. economically. By not raising the issue and suppressing it we are not only letting justice be provided to the farmers but also motivating the government who is not performing its job correctly to continue with what they are doing.
One of the cases which bought a lot of new media attention, the Kathua rape case. Where an 8-year-old girl from Jammu and Kashmir was raped. The new media played a very important role in publicizing this case. There were candlelight marches, people all over India were enraged, also the United Nations and many other countries protested. In this case, new media had both pros and cons. The supreme court issued a notice to social media plate forms like Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for revealing the name of the victim. Saying that, by revealing the name of the victim they have done a disservice to the nation. This act by the media is an obstruction to justice. The acts of the new media must be balanced, limited and must respect the affected parties and the integrity of the court. Otherwise, this kind of problems will exaggerate and the victim and his/her families will no longer be safe. There will be no for the courts of the country which will further dismantle the whole system. This act by media was not morally justifiable, this act was a mere public seeking and profit gaining act and nothing more. Another major event which occurred was the amendment in POCSO act 2012. The legislature amended the POCSO Act 2012, (Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act), where they enhanced the punishment of rape of a girl child under age 12 (minors) from 10 years to 20 years to maximum to a death penalty. According to me, media played an important role as the public viewpoints were put forward through social media, they highlighted the protests, spread the news around the world and the responses. All these attraction of people does make pressure on the government, to amend the laws. Also, two of the BJP ministers said that this case should not be given much importance, which also created a ruckus in social media saying that they were not empathetic towards such a brutal situation. So, this does put pressure on the present party and the name of the party is affected. So, they were told to resign from the party.
Lynching has been a hot topic among the legislatures and the judiciary. Lynching in India has now become a very common act by people and still, no law has been made regarding the same. One of the most controversial cases was the Dimapur lynching case. This case where Syed Sarifuddin Farid Khan, was arrested on suspicion of rape and was lynched by a group of college students. A mob of more than 6000 people dragged him naked and lynched. It was also said by the Indian media as well as new media that he was a Bangladeshi which was also one of the reasons why he was lynched and that he was an alien to India. This was a case of vigilante justice, where people take law in their hands and act as per their wish (Kurian 2015, 25-27). This case bought into light two different things first about the sexual violence against women and the issue of Bangladeshi immigrants. When we talk about sexual violence against women, we talk about the Nirbhaya case which had triggered everyone. Compared to the Nirbhaya case Dimapur lynching wasn’t politicized. One of the reasons can be that northeast India has always been left out from other states of India (Kurian 2015, 25) and people have stereotypic thinking about the people there because of their visual appearance, Xenophobia is a word which describes the situation the best.
Through new media sites, we see that Mr. Khan was seen as an immigrant from Bangladesh. Even though it’s not been proved whether he was an immigrant or not people have already victimized him already, this is some of the effects of new media. Later it was found out that he was indeed an Indian and that his father and brother both served the Indian army. Is this what people get when their families have sacrificed so much for their country. Even if that person was an immigrant, does their life not count and immigrants always seem like criminals even though they didn’t do any wrong. One such example we can see in the movie The Visitor, 2007.
People misuse new media by spreading hatred in society, in the name of religion which shapes people’s mindset as religion is a sensitive issue for people. Killing people in the name of religion has been a long practice in India. Is it because he raped a girl he was lynched or whether he was thought to be a Muslim immigrant? Both can be the reasons. First of all, the case was still going on in the court but the mob took the law in their own hands, through this they are undermining the integrity of the court. What’s the use of courts if people just start you victimize people even before knowing whether they are guilty or not and lynching them? But we can't put the entire blame on people. One of the reasons for lynching can also be the slow judicial processes, especially in sensitive cases like this. Both media and new media often exaggerate the issue and make attempts to influence the common masses, which thereby results in their violent reactions.
And finally, I would like to conclude that the rise of new media has both pros and cons. New media has now become a plate form where one can share their opinions, raise their voice, how it affects the political system, the judicial processes and especially how it really shapes the mindset of people. We see how the rise of new media may also lead to brutal events. The judicial system should also keep in mind when such events occur speedy justice must be given and how to handle the situation. I think it’s up to us the people how we perceive thinks through new media. One has to differentiate what is sensible and what is not. Just because someone posts something on new media, it’s not necessary that true. As new media is also made in a way how the elites in our society want us to think about various things.