Weeks after he accused the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh government of providing a ‘special helicopter’ to Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan has now expressed regret over the ‘error’.
On October 21, Bhushan had tweeted, “The CJI avails a special chopper provided by the MP Govt (authorised by the CM) for a visit to Kanha National Park & then to his hometown in Nagpur, while an important case of disqualification of defecting MLAs of MP is pending before him. Survival of MP govt depends on this case.” He insinuated that the Madhya Pradesh government was trying to influence the CJI, prior to the hearing of a pending case that could decide their fate.
Prashant Bhushan’s change of heart
However, the senior advocate took to Twitter on November 4 to express his ‘regret’. Prashant Bhushan regretted, “Elections were held yesterday to seats of defecting Cong MLAs in MP who were made ministers in the Shivraj Govt. Survival of Shivraj govt will depend on their re-election, not on (the) decision of (the) case in CJIs court challenging their ministership. I regret this error in my tweet below.”
His tweet came after the Chief Justice of India dismissed a petition that raised the issue of disqualification of Congress MLAs, who defected to the BJP in the aftermath of the political crisis in the State. Senior advocate and Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who reportedly represented Congress MLA Vinay Saxena in the apex court, informed that the by-polls had already been conducted for the vacant seats and argued that the petition had become ‘infructuous’.
Elections were held yesterday to seats of defecting Cong MLAs in MP who were made ministers in the Shivraj Govt. Survival of Shivraj govt will depend on their re-election, not on decision of case in CJIs court challenging their ministership. I regret this error in my tweet below https://t.co/SkX86iuJuS— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) November 4, 2020
Fake Claims of Prashant Bhushan against CJI
Apart from the obvious contempt of court in the tweet posted by Bhushan, it is also based on lies. He accused that MP govt has provided a special chopper to the CJI, and tried to paint this as a favour done to CJI Bobde. That accusation is completely baseless, because the CJI is one of the top VVIPs in the country, and he is eligible for travel arrangements made by states whenever he visits any state.
According to the protocol of govt of India, any visit, official or unofficial, by the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Governors of other states and several other such VVIPs are considered as state visits. Therefore, by treating the CJI as a state guest, the Madhya Pradesh government is not giving any undue favour, they are just following the standard protocol. The allegation made by Prashant Bhushan that the CJI is visiting MP while important matters are pending before him is also baseless, because CJI Bobde is visiting his home state during holidays.
Therefore, while the MP govt is providing transport facility to CJI Bobde as per existing norms and protocol, Prashant Bhushan needlessly linked the same with the MLA disqualification case to attack him again.
However, it is interesting to note that Prashant Bhushan apologised only after the CJI passed an order that he deemed to be correct. Had the decision gone the other way, Bhushan would have continued to cast aspersions on the integrity of the Supreme Court and the CJI simply because his urge to see BJP loose is far greater than the truth or even, his integrity as a lawyer. Essentially, Prashant Bhushan seems to think that he can bully the court into delivering favourable judgements by doubting its integrity before every upcoming case, and hopes to get away with it scot-free.
The Contempt case against Prashant Bhushan
On August 14, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court held Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for his tweets against the judiciary and the Chief Justices of India. The Supreme Court had convicted senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan after holding him guilty in contempt of court, with a fine of Re 1.
The court had 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.