Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan is in the news after Hindu Raksha Dal vandalised the party headquarters in Ghaziabad on Wednesday over his remark that the people of Kashmir should be asked through a referendum whether they wanted army’s deployment in civilian areas to continue.
Given the sensitivity about Kashmir issue, AAP convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal promptly said the party did not agree with Bhushan’s comment.
After his statement caused a furore, Bhushan, a senior Supreme Court lawyer since 1983, clarified, “Any reference to the referendum should not be misconstrued to mean plebiscite on Kashmir’s relationship with India.”
This is not the first time he has spoken out on the issue. On September 26, 2011, Bhushan stated during a press conference in Varanasi that the Army should be withdrawn from J&K and if the people there did not want to live with India, they should be granted freedom through a plebiscite. For this statement, he was beaten up by three youth inside his chamber in the Supreme Court on October 12, 2011.
A social activist from Delhi, Bhushan was a prominent member of Team Anna that backed Anna Hazare during his fast against corruption and the demand for the Jan Lokpal Bill in 2011. The bill seeks to provide independent oversight of politicians and bureaucrats in an attempt to curb corruption. Hazare nominated Bhushan and his father, the eminent lawyer Shanti Bhushan, as civil society members to draft the bill.
When the Aam Aadmi Party came into existence in November last year, Bhushan was among its key members, which included journalist Manish Sisodia and psephologist Yogendra Yadav.
Bhushan is known for working on more than 500 public interest litigation (PIL) cases for social awareness and exposing corruption. In 2011, he filed a crucial PIL in the 2G spectrum allocation case, demanding the prosecution of business tycoons Ratan Tata, Anil Ambani and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar among others.
He has appeared in several high-profile cases, including the Niira Radia tapes, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Bofors, the contempt of court case against Arundhati Roy, Enron, the Right to Information Act, the Panna Mukta Oilfields case, the Doon Valley mining case and the oil companies’ disinvestment case.
An alumnus of St Joseph’s College Allahabad, Bhushan joined IIT, Madras, in 1973, but left a year later to pursue a BA in philosophy, economics and political science. He then went to Princeton University and completed his Masters in Philosophy in 1982. A year later, he returned to India and enrolled as an advocate.
His father was the Union law minister in the Morarji Desai government between 1977 and 1979.