Days after the Supreme Court of India found senior advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt, the Bar Council of India (BCI) has directed the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) to scrutinise his tweets and take appropriate action in accordance with the law.
BCI directs BCD to examine tweets of Prashant Bhushan
In a press release on Friday, BCI stated, “The Council is of the view that the tweets and statements made by Shri Prashant Bhushan, Advocate and the Judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India needs thorough study and examination by the Bar Council in the light of the statutory duties, powers and functions conferred on it under the Advocates’ Act, 1961 and the rules framed thereunder, particularly, Section-24A and Section-35 of the Advocates Act, 1961 and Chapter-II, Part-VI of Bar Council of India Rules.”
The Bar Council of India further reiterated that Bar Council of Delhi must examine the tweets and proceed as ‘expeditiously’ as possible. The meeting was presided over by the Vice-Chairman Satish A. Deshmukh.
The provisions of the Advocates law
According to Section 24A of the Advocates Act, a person cannot practice as an advocate or remain on the roll of the Bar Council of a State if he is convicted for an offence that includes ‘moral turpitude’. Section 24 of the Advocates Act states that a lawyer found guilty of professional misconduct can be suspended from practising in courts or have their licenses cancelled altogether.
Supreme Court judgement made provisions for cancellation of licence by BCI
The precedent for suspension of Bhushan’s bar licence was laid in paragraph 89 of the judgment. It read, “Pursuant to the conviction in a criminal case, the Bar Council of India can suspend the enrolment if it so desires. It is also open to this Court to debar from practicing in a Court, as held in Supreme Court Bar Association (supra).”
The Contempt case against Prashant Bhushan
On August 31, the Supreme Court let off convicted senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, held guilty in contempt of court, with a nominal fine of Re 1. However, the court added that if Bhushan fails to pay a fine of Re 1, he will be sentenced to 3 months in jail and suspension of his lawyering for 3 months. The case pertained to two tweets where Prashant Bhushan had cast aspersions against the Supreme Court and specifically, CJI Bobde.
The court had then granted additional time for Mr Bhushan to consider providing an unconditional apology for his scurrilous remarks. However, in his vanity of portraying himself as Mahatma Gandhi, Mr Bhushan refused to apologise, claiming tendering an apology would tantamount to “contempt of his conscience.” Responding to the Supreme Court verdict asking Prashant Bhushan to pay a token fine of Re 1 for his tweets against the judiciary, the senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan issued a protracted statement, admitting to paying the fine but indicated that he would file a review petition against the order.