A contempt petition has been filed against senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan and news channels Aaj Tak and Times Now for making reckless imputations against the Judiciary. The contempt petition has been filed by 5 lawyers who hail from Lucknow.
The petitioners have filed the contempt case after taking strong exception to the statements made by Prashant Bhushan after the pronouncement of 2 judgements by the Supreme Court – the Sahara-Birla Payoff case and the Judge Loya case. They have asserted that the comments made by Prashant Bhushan tarnish the image of the Judiciary in the eyes of the people.
The petition says:
“usual practice of Shri Prashant Bhushan to malign the Hon’ble Judges and the institution of the judiciary if he fails to get a favourable judgment from the court attributing reasons for passing the judgment/order against him.”
The petitioners have cited that after the dismissal of the Sahara-Birla Payoff case, Prashant Bhushan had declared it to be a “black day” in the history of the Supreme Court.
In the Sahara-Birla Payoff PIL that was filed by Prashant Bhushan and dismissed by the Supreme Court, observing that mere diary entries cannot be considered as evidence, Prashant Bhushan had cast aspersions on the Judiciary, as stated in the petition. Prashant Bhushan had also alleged that the Supreme Court “wilts under pressure”.
The petition also cites Prashant Bhushan saying :
“It was one of most unfortunate date for the Supreme Court and the Judiciary, where the credibility of the Court has been greatly undermined that too effectively by the CJI himself”.
The petitioners have also cited the dismissal of the case that sought a probe into the death of Judge Loya, filed by Congress supporter Tehseen Poonawalla. The petition asserts that immediately after the announcement of the verdict, Prashant Bhushan had said:
“With a view to scandalize the judges and the institution of judiciary addressed the press in the lawns of the Supreme Court which was broadcast by different news channels”.
The petition recalls a judgement from 1st December 2017 when the court had imposed a heavy cost on Prashant Bhushan. The petition cites the following extract of the judgement:
“…the present petition, in particular, the manner in which it has been perused without any remorse of questioning the decision rendered on the subject matter by this court including the plea taken in the earlier petition as noted in paragraph 29 of the said decision, is a gross abuse of the process of the court. Therefore, it has to be dismissed with exemplary costs in order to ensure that such an attempt is not repeated in future.”
Mentioning that the affidavit in support of the application for intervention (in Judge Loya death) was sworn by Mr.Prashant Bhushan personally, the petition quoted a part of the judgement while dismissing that case that said that the petition was a veiled attempt to launch a frontal attack on the independence of the judiciary and to dilute the credibility of the judicial institutions.
Referring to the press conference held after the Judge Loya petition dismissal, the petition said, that from his statements, it was clear that Prashant Bhushan said the following:
- “It is a black day in the Supreme Court history.”
- “the judgment has been passed at the instance of some person”.
- “the judgment has been passed to shield the culprits”
- “the judgment has been passed to suppress regarding the death of judge Loya”
The petition has included Aaj Tak and Times Now in the contempt petition since the statements of Prashant Bhushan was broadcast on these channels the entire day.
The petitioners have sought initiation of criminal contempt against Bhushan, Aaj Tak and Times Now under Article 129 of the Constitution of India read with Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act.
We had reported earlier how the court had made some interesting observations while hearing the Judge Loya case. The judicial whistleblowers in the case have a sketchy past and that had cast doubts on their credibility. Judge Loya’s family had also appealed to NGOs and lawyers to drop the case and said that they have no suspicion with regards to his death.