Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan has welcomed the punishment delivered to him by the Supreme Court and proceeded to announce that his counsel advocate Rajeev Dhawan had paid the amount of Rupees One immediately that the Court had set as a penalty. The ‘PIL Activist’ said that he ‘gracefully’ accepted the punishment.
The Supreme Court had asked Prashant Bhushan to pay the penalty of Re 1 for being guilty of contempt of court or face three months of jail time and suspension of his law practice in the apex court for 3 years. It has to be noted that paying the penalty is an acceptance of the Court’s verdict that he is guilty.
Earlier, however, Prashant Bhushan had vowed to not accept the Court’s verdict and refused to tender an apology for his contemptuous tweets against Chief Justice S.A.Bobde. His supporters had gone to the extent of comparing him to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. While he asked his supporters to not make such comparisons, it was quite evident that he enjoyed the comparisons immensely and was trying hard to fill their boots.
While Prashant Bhushan said on Twitter that he refused to be compared to Gandhiji and Mandela, claiming that such comparison is misplaced and that he had done nothing compared to what the two great men did. Later, he shared an article on how Gandhiji too had refused to offer an apology and decided to face the contempt the proceeding.
In his submission to the Court, Prashant Bhushan had said that “offering an insincere apology would amount to a contempt of his conscience and of an institution that he holds in the highest esteem”. He claimed that his tweets were the “discharge of highest duty” and that his tweets were expressed in “good faith”.
As it so happens, despite the valiant efforts to fill the boots of the iconic gentlemen, he caved in spectacularly and bowed down to the mandate of the Judiciary. This is in stark contrast to the conduct of Mahatma Gandhi on one particular occasion. During his visit to Champaran in 1917, he was served a notice by the Magistrate demanding that he leave Champaran as his presence could cause ‘public unrest’.
“Gandhiji appeared before the magistrate at Motihari district court on April 18, 1917. In a brief statement, he said he has come to Champaran on invitation from farmers, who had urged that they were not being treated fairly by British indigo planters,” Shobhakant Choudhary, a sociology professor at MS College, Motihari, said recalling the episode.
Mahatama Gandhi was asked to pay a security bond of Rs. 100 which he refused to pay. Subsequently, the case was withdrawn by the British Government. The people cheered him and hailed his demonstration of resistance. His conduct is in stark contrast to that of Prashant Bhushan who was only over willing to pay the amount that was asked of him.
Despite his public display of bravado Prashant Bhushan, in the end, decided to accept the Court’s verdict in order to avoid actual punishment for his conduct. Thus, it only goes on to show that while his words demonstrate a willingness to make personal sacrifices due to his great commitment to truth, his actions speak otherwise.