Prashant Bhushan was found guilty of contempt of court by the Supreme Court of India. The order was passed by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra. The verdict against the ‘PIL Activist’ has, along expected lines, set the proverbial cat among the pigeons and ’eminent citizens’ are jumping out of the woodwork to defend him.
Journalists, who had previously wanted action against those they disagree with, have suddenly come to believe that action against the senior advocate could undermine the credibility of the Supreme Court. Prominent among them was Rajdeep Sardesai who had recently landed in hot soup after spreading fake news regarding the death of former President Pranab Mukherjee.
While Rakdeep Sardesai lamented in 2018 that a leaked audio of state BJP President of Kerala claimed that the party had planned and executed the Sabarimala agitation against the Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry of women and how no one bothered about contempt of court, two years later, he was more concerned about the fact that the matter of detainees in Kashmir was pending before the Court while the Court ruled adversely against Prashant Bhushan.
Nidhi Razdan commented on the matter in a similar vein. In a tweet dripping with sarcasm, the former NDTV ‘journalist’ said that the Supreme Court ought to be complimented for the speedy resolution of the contempt of court proceedings against Prashant Bhushan “just like the habaes corpus petitions the court has heard and disposed off to ensure justice”. In 2018, however, she was singing a different tune.
During Sabarimala, she had termed it a “mass contempt of court”.
Abusive troll masquerading as a journalist, Swati Chaturvedi, too, appears to have undergone a change of stance. While she now believes that the Supreme Court ought to wear its powers lightly and it is not beyond criticism, she enquired in 2019 why was it that the Court was silent on two cases related to contempt of court.
On a similar note, so-called ‘journalist’ Nikhil Wagle appears to have altered his stance on matters that hurt the credibility of the Supreme Court. While earlier, he said that ‘fake news peddlers’ deserve to be jailed, after the guilty verdict on the contempt of court proceedings against Prashant Bhushan, he came to the conclusion that this will hurt the Court’s credibility.
Thus, quite evidently, such propagandists would have had no issues if those they disagree with had been found guilty of contempt of court but now that someone they perceive to be on their side was held guilty of it, they have suddenly developed an aversion towards the whole concept. It is much like the manner in which Prashant Bhushan challenged the law criminalising contempt of court in the Supreme Court when he realised there was a serious threat he might be held guilty under the same law.
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.