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SC rejects Prashant Bhushan’s plea for sentencing by another bench, Bhushan says wont apologise for tweets

The SC bench headed by Justice Mishra told Bhushan that if he does not balance his comments, he will destroy the institution and the court does not punish for contempt so easily.

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Prashant Bhushan’s plea to review his statement on the quantum of his sentence in two days by another bench. The next hearing of the case may take place on 31st August 2020. Bhushan was held guilty of contempt of court earlier this month.

Bench questioned the delay in filing the review petition

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra, Justice Gavai and Justice Murari set 20th August 2020 to pronounce the sentencing verdict. During the hearing of the arguments on sentencing advocate, Dave asked the court to adjourn the hearing of the arguments on sentencing in light of the review petition Bhushan intend to file in the prescribed time. Justice Mishra refused to consider the argument and said it can be filed after the verdict. Justice Mishra added, “Don’t worry, we will be fair to you… Even if you are not fair to us.” Justice Gavai said that it appears to the bench that the review petition will be sought when one of the Judges on the bench has retired.

The SC bench headed by Justice Mishra told Bhushan that if he does not balance his comments, he will destroy the institution and the court does not punish for contempt so easily. “There has to be Lakshman Rekha for everything. Why should you cross the rekha?” Justice Mishra said. He further added that the court welcomes good cases in public interest and gave 2-3 days time to Bhushan to rethink his statement where he said he wont apologise for the tweets.

The bench observed that it can be “very lenient” only if the person concerned can show a sense of remorse from the core of his heart.

Prashant Bhushan’s statement on the court’s verdict

Advocate Dhavan informed the court that before he says anything on sentencing, Prashant Bhushan wanted to make a statement. Bhushan said that he is pained to learn that the court found him guilty. He said that he was misunderstood and he was shocked to learn that the court passed the verdict without providing any evidence about his motives. Bhushan claimed that his tweets were an attempt to discharge his duty as a citizen. He added, “I submit to any penalty which the court may inflict. It would be contemptuous on my part to offer an apology.”

Prashant Bhushan’s statement on holding him guilty in contempt of court (credit: Bar and Bench)

Bhushan cited Mahatma Gandhi in the court and claimed that he does not seek ‘mercy’. He added that he will not apologise for his tweets and will cheerfully accept the punishment.

What was the case?

On 14th August 2020, the Supreme Court of India held advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty for contempt of court. Bhushan had tweeted in twice in June once against the last 4 CJIs, and another tweet on CJI riding a bike. The court took suo motu cognizance of the case and issued notice to Bhushan and Twitter. After lawyers appeared for Twitter US in Supreme Court, they withheld the tweets by Prashant Bhushan until further notice or till the judgment comes in the case. The Supreme Court has given two days to Bhushan to reconsider his statement to the court over his sentence.

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