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Bar Council of India condemns Prashant Bhushan’s remarks against SC during his address to Islamist IAMC, calls it a ‘rant against the nation’

In a press release published on Friday, the BCI noted that Bhushan's comments are not only foolish, but also "reprehensible and a rant against the nation".

The Bar Council of India (BCI) on Saturday heavily criticized advocate Prashant Bhushan for his recent remarks against the apex court. “People are misusing the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression. We cannot imagine the existence of such people like Prashant in countries like China and Russia”, said BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra.

This is days after advocate Prashant Bhushan passed critical comments about the Supreme Court and its judges. On August 10, Bhushan addressed a webinar organized by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and said that in its recent judgments in the Zakia Jafri, Himanshu Kumar, and Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases, the Supreme Court effectively abdicated its position as the custodian of civil liberties and basic rights in India.

“These judgments in Zakia Jafri, Himanshu Kumar, and PMLA are extremely painful. This takes the assault of the Supreme Court or abdication of its duty to a different level where the person who has petitioned the Supreme Court is now being penalized for having approached the Supreme Court and the same thing they have done in the Himanshu Kumar case. It is something beyond bizarre that the Supreme Court has done”, he had said.

Mishra while condemning the words put forth by Bhushan, said that the latter had crossed all his limits at the webinar hosted by Indian-American Muslim Council. “He not only criticized and used filthy, demeaning words for our Judges of Supreme Court but, exposed himself by uttering that by doing so, he intended to deter some of the Judges of Supreme Court of India”, he said.

During his address on August 10, Bhushan mentioned former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and said that the latter gave the Ayodhya and Rafale judgments before retiring and was appointed to the Rajya Sabha soon after. He also mentioned former Supreme Court Justice Arun Mishra, who was appointed head of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) soon after retiring and was permitted to keep his official house for 9 months in contravention of the norms.

Bhushan also chastised Justice AM Khanwilkar, who resigned recently following rulings on Zakia Jafri, Himanshu Kumar, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). In a press release published on Friday, the BCI noted that Bhushan’s comments are not only foolish but also “reprehensible and a rant against the nation”.

In response to advocate Bhushan’s concern on post-retirement appointments of judges, the BCI stated that such appointments cannot be attacked in such an impolite manner since specific roles can only be allocated to retired judges under certain statutes.

“Bar Councils have always been raising the issue, but, respectfully before the appropriate forum. Maligning the image of our judges or the institution for these matters is quite improper and unjustified,” the press release stated. The Bar cannot be expected to be stronger unless the sanctity and authority of the court are preserved, and similarly, a strong and brave bar is required for a strong and independent judiciary.

No one has the authority to ridicule the Supreme Court of India, its Judges, or the Judiciary. You cannot make a mockery of the system, as a citizen of India more so, so long as you are an advocate, or else be ready to face the consequences. You can criticize anyone, but, you cannot cross the Laxman Rekha, always mind your language. The license to practice does not empower you to misuse your position as a lawyer,” Mishra was quoted.

The BCI also stated that though no action would be taken by the SC against the advocate, the such nuisance will not be tolerated. “You cannot make a mockery of the system, as the citizen of India more so, as you are an Advocate, or else be ready to face the consequences. You can criticize anyone, but, you cannot cross the Laxman Rekha,” the press release noted.

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