On 5 February the union government had filed a contempt petition against advocate Prashant Bhushan in Supreme Court, a day after Attorney general KK Venugopal had lodged a similar petition, accusing Bhsuan of exercising vindictiveness and recklessness while tweeting about the appointment of interim CBI director M Nageshwar Rao.
Supreme Court issues notice to advocate Prashant Bhushan on contempt plea filed by Attorney General KK Venugopal and Centre that Bhushan in his tweets said that AG Venugopal ‘wilfully&deliberately’ made false statement in a case pending in court. Next date of hearing is March 7.
— ANI (@ANI) February 6, 2019
Now following which, the Apex court today issued a notice to Prashant Bhushan regarding the contempt plea.
A bench headed by justice Arun Mishra was supposed to hear the petition filed by NGO Common Cause against the appointment of interim CBI director Rao. The next hearing is slated to be held next month on March 7. The bench said that it would deal with the large issue of whether it should be allowed to lawyers or others to criticise the court on a matter which still sub-judice, and whether it will lead to influencing of public opinions.
On February 1, Bhushan had tweeted that the appointment of Rao had happened without the consent of the high-powered committee comprising of the PM Modi, Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition. But, when the case was heard last week, AG Venugopal had furnished the minutes of the meeting of the committee proving that the appointment of Rao was indeed approved and signed by the high-powered committee.
Prashant Bhushan defended his tweet, claiming that the opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge told him that no discussion regarding the appointment of interim CBI director had taken place in the HPC meeting. However, the defence was by rubbished by the Attorney General who said that the minutes of the meeting proves that the high powered committee had authorised the central government to appoint an interim director till a new director of CBI is selected by CBI, and all three members of the committee including Kharge had signed below it.
#CBI: With the filing of contempt of court petition by AG KK Venugopal against Prashant Bhushan, this case has become all the more interesting.
— Murali Krishnan (@legaljournalist) February 4, 2019
In October last year, the appointment of an interim CBI director was necessitated after the Union Government had decided to send CBI director Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana on leave after both had levelled serious allegations on each other.