The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on the punishment to senior advocate Prashant Bhushan in the contempt of court case regarding his contemptuous tweets against the Institution and the Chief Justices of India.
After listening to the submissions made by Dr Dhawan and Attorney General, Justice Mishra said that it has been “painful” to read all the statements made by Bhushan and his justifications. He stated that this is not the way a Supreme Court lawyer, with 30 years of experience should have behaved.
Justices Mishra and Gavai also pulled up defence counsel, asking if it is appropriate for the petitioner to release his response to the press before filing it in the court. The scathing observation made by the bench was in reference to Bhushan’s petition which was released in the press before it was submitted in the court of law.
Justice Mishra also highlighted that the convict Prashant Bhushan went to the extent of quoting Mahatma Gandhi but couldn’t bring himself to apologise for the disrespectful remarks he made against the Supreme Court and the Chief Justices.
AG KK Venugopal asks SC to forgive Bhushan for his contemptuous remarks
Earlier today, Attorney General KK Venugopal averred the instances when SC judges in the past had spoken about the corruption in the judiciary.
The AG then continued asserting that the former justices had sought improvement of administration of justice. He urged the bench to consider Prashant Bhushan’s tweets in the same light and forgive him or perhaps warn him, without meting out any punishment to him.
However, Justice Mishra tersely responded, “We expected something better than this. What can be done if he thinks he has done no wrong.”
The AG then referred to a contempt case against Bhushan for his remarks against AG that he had forged documents in the CBI Director case. The case was withdrawn after Bhushan expressed regret for his comments. The AG continued saying that the court should take a “compassionate view” that the same would be appreciated by the Bar and would befit the status of the Court.
However, Justice Mishra pointed out that it is futile to give warnings to Bhushan since he doesn’t believe he has done anything wrong. Justice Mishra also highlighted that the contempt case against him was withdrawn only after Bhushan had expressed regret over his statements.
In addition to this, AG asked the Court to take Bhushan’s remarks off-the-record and close the case. But Justice Mishra responded, “How can they be taken off-the-record when Bhushan himself says they are his bonafide belief?”
Senior advocate Dhawan urges court to suo motu recall contempt of court verdict against Bhushan
Senior advocate Dhawan representing Prashant Bhushan reminded the bench about the contributions made by Bhushan as amicus and in public causes. He also pointed out how Justice Mishra, who had served as Chief Justice of Calcutta HC did not initiate contempt proceedings against CM Mamata Banerjee when she had called judges corrupt.
Justifying Prashant Bhushan’s contemptuous tweets against the judiciary and the Chief Justices of India, Dr Dhawan argued that courts are not immune to criticism, and urged the bench to suo motu recall the contempt verdict.