A group of citizens, including retired judges, bureaucrats and others, has railed against naysayers who have been criticising the Supreme Court over the conviction of senior advocate Prashant Bhushan in contempt of court case, raising concern over the recent trend of browbeating and intimidating the judiciary.
In a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of India, the group said, “India has witnessed a series of attacks by institutional disruptors against judges who are unwilling to agree with them and toe the line drawn by them.”
Group of citizens, incl retired judges & bureaucrats, write to CJI, over people criticising SC’s conviction of lawyer Prashant Bhushan in a contempt case; state, “Unfortunate when political ends of lawyers aren’t served by court decision, they vilify it with scandalizing remarks” pic.twitter.com/o3Ld6U787L— ANI (@ANI) August 19, 2020
“It is unfortunate that when political ends of lawyers are not served by a decision of the court, they vilify the court by making scandalising remarks,” the statement read, adding “The Supreme Court of India as well as the judges are subject to both scurrilous language, malicious attack and scandalising remarks.”
More than 100 retired judges, bureaucrats, lawyers and others have signed the letter. Some of those who had been signatories to the letter include–former Mumbai High Court chief justice K R Vyas, former Sikkim HC chief justice Permod Kohli, former petroleum secretary Saurabh Chandra and former Punjab DGP P C Dogra.
The statement also pointed out that while legitimate criticism of both judgments and the functioning of the courts had existed since a long time, however, recently the court’s authority is undermined by criticism that is designed and motivated by malice.
The argued that for the courts to perform their duties and carry out their functions effectively, it is sine qua non to protect their dignity and the authority. It stated that usage of malicious phrases such as ‘Supreme Court has destroyed democracy’, ‘The Supreme Court is killing the Constitution’ and several such vitriolic descriptions erode the public faith in the judiciary.
“We urge you to uphold the edifice of the judicial system and protect the third pillar of our democracy from those who peddle falsehood to destroy the institution. We sincerely hope that the Supreme Court of India ensures that such persons are dealt with in an exemplary manner,” the letter to the CJI read while asking for punitive action against those who indulge in sharing lies about the courts and tarnish their image.
Following Supreme Court’s conviction, several lawyers and bodies come up in support of Prashant Bhushan
The letter has come in the wake of criticism directed at the Supreme Court for the conviction of senior advocate Prashant Bhushan for his tweets maligning the apex court. In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court held advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court. The case pertained to two tweets where Prashant Bhushan had cast aspersions against the Supreme Court and specifically, CJI Bobde. The order has been passed by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and the arguments on sentencing, that can go up to 6 months, will be heard by the bench on the 20th of August.
The apex court observed that the insinuation by Bhushan is not an attack against an individual but on the institution itself and that the CJIs who presided over the court in the last 6 years, and particularly last 4, had a particular role in destroying the Indian democracy.
Around 41 lawyers have appealed against his conviction to the apex Court on Monday. On August 14, the Supreme Court found Prashant Bhushan guilty for two tweets where he had raised aspersions on the apex court, and specifically against the Chief Justice of India.
Several bodies, including the Bar Association of India (BAI), had come out in support of Bhushan after his conviction, defending him by asserting that at the time when the citizenry is facing huge challenges, the stature of the top court would stand enhanced by allowing criticism rather than taking offence at his remarks.
Besides, a bevvy of left-leaning liberals, including prominent public personalities, who harbour animosity towards the current regime, has sided with the beleaguered lawyer, raising aspersions over the Supreme Court’s decision of holding him guilty of contempt of court.