Surpeme Court holds Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court
A three-judge bench headed by justice Arun Mishra pronounced the judgment at 11 am, and said it will hold a separate hearing to decide the punishment to be given to Bhushan.Updated: Aug 14, 2020 14:32 IST
The Supreme Court on Friday held advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court over his tweets casting aspersions on Chief Justice SA Bobde and the top court.
A three-judge bench headed by justice Arun Mishra pronounced the judgment at 11 am, and said it will hold a separate hearing to decide the punishment to be given to Bhushan.
“We find you guilty of contempt of court. We will hear you on sentence aspect,” ruled the bench that included justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari.
The hearing on the sentencing will be held on August 20.
According to the contempt of courts act, the offence carries a punishment of up to six months in prison or a fine up to Rs 2,000 or both.
Bhushan had posted two tweets, one against the Supreme Court on June 27 and another against Bobde on June 29. He was served notice by the Supreme Court on July 22.
The first tweet, reproduced in the court order, said: “When historians in the future look back at the last six years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the SC in this destruction, and more particularly the role of the last four CJIs.”
The second referred to the Bobde and was also cited in the order. It said: “The CJI rides a Rs 50-lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] leader at Raj Bhavan, Nagpur, without wearing a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC on lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice!”
Bhushan had refused to apologise for his tweets, contending they are protected by the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution. He cited the speeches on dissent made by Supreme Court judges DY Chandrachud on February 15 and Deepak Gupta on February 24 to buttress his case.
Deepak Gupta retired on May 6.
Another suo motu contempt petition is pending before the same bench against Bhushan for calling past chief justices corrupt in a 2009 interview to Tehelka magazine.
Bhushan, in that case, had offered an explanation for his statements but the Supreme Court refused to accept it and ruled, on August 10, that it will proceed with the case. That case is now listed for hearing on August 17.
The court closed contempt proceedings against Twitter Inc accepting it’s explanation that it is only an intermediary and had also shown it’s bona fides by suspending the controversial tweets immediately after the top court initiated the case.