On Saturday, the microblogging website, Twitter, has reportedly withheld two contentious tweets by advocate Prashant Bhushan wherein he cast aspersions about the Indian Judiciary. This comes at the backdrop of a suo motu contempt notice by the apex Court against Bhushan and Twitter Inc. Earlier, an advocate Mahek Maheshwari had also filed a petition seeking contempt action against the two.
As per reports, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai, and Krishna Murari noted that the said tweets brought ‘disrepute’ to the ‘administration of justice.’ The Court has further asked the advocate to explain whether the tweets are ‘contemptuous’ in nature. As per Twitter policies, a tweet is usually withheld in response to a legal action or an order from a competent court in any country.
Advocate Sajan Poovayya, representing Twitter Inc. in the apex court, informed that a tweet is deleted only after a Court order and clarified that ‘withholding tweets’ did not imply ‘deletion of tweets’. Reportedly, when a Court takes suo motu cognizance of a subject as ‘contemptuous’, it is deemed that the matter is liable for contempt even if none is prosecuted by the end of the trial. As per Bar and Bench, by withholding the tweets, the social media giant has kept its options open – either to delete or restore them, post the final verdict in the case.
Twitter in its policy on withholding Tweet says “If you see the above message, it means Twitter was compelled to withhold the original Tweet in response to a valid legal demand, such as a court order”. @pbhushan1 @Twitter @TwitterIndia pic.twitter.com/d50Xh2M7jh— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) July 25, 2020
Interestingly, the contentious tweets that have now been withheld by Twitter after Contempt proceedings against Prashant Bhushan were hailed by Yogendra Yadav. Tweeting the screenshots of the two tweets against CJI SA Bobde.
Contempt proceedings against Prashant Bhushan over defamatory tweets
Earlier, the Supreme Court of India took Suo Moto against Prashant Bhushan’s reckless behaviour on social media and initiated contempt of Court case against him and Twitter India. The apex court issued a show-cause notice to the senior advocate asking him to explain why actions should not be taken against him on contempt of court charges.
The court has also asked Attorney General KK Venugopal to assist the court, in the case, and a notice for the same has been issued to the AG. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra heard the suo moto case against Prashant Bhushan. The court stated that the case been filed against Prashant Bhushan for his tweet on last 4 CJIs, and another tweet on CJI riding a bike.