SC holds Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt for tweets against CJI, judiciary

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Senior advocate and former AAP leader Prashant Bhushan.IANS | Representational

The Supreme Court on Friday, August 14, held activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for his “derogatory” tweets criticising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and the judiciary.

The order was passed by a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai, and Krishna Murari. The apex court is yet to decide on the quantum of punishment, and the hearing on the sentence is scheduled on August 20.

What’s the case

On July 22, the top court had issued notice to Bhushan on the alleged contemptuous remarks on Twitter. The top court also asked the Attorney General to assist it on the matter. The apex court had asked Bhushan and Twitter to file a reply by August 5.

“We are, prima facie, of the view that the aforesaid statements on Twitter have brought the administration of justice in disrepute and are capable of undermining the dignity and authority of the Institution of Supreme Court in general and the office of the Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of public at large,” said the court in its order.

Prashant Bhushan had moved the Supreme Court seeking recall of its July 22 order.

In his reply to a show-cause notice issued by the Supreme Court, Prashant Bhushan said the expression of opinion, “however outspoken, disagreeable or unpalatable to some”, cannot constitute contempt of court.

Prashant Bhushan also referred to the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution and said this right was the ultimate guardian of all the values that the Constitution holds sacred.

The Supreme Court initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against Bhushan for allegedly making derogatory comments against the top court on June 27 in a tweet that alleged that the last four Chief Justices had played a role in the “destruction of democracy” during undeclared “emergency” for the last six years. Another tweet on June 29 alleged that the “present Chief Justice” rode bike in Nagpur “while keeping the apex court in lockdown and denying citizens their right to access to justice”.

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