Supreme Court Holds Advocate Prashant Bhushan Guilty of Contempt

Prashant Bhushan
Prashant Bhushan

As Prashant Bhushan has been openly attacking PM Modi, the Modi government, and the top judiciary, the contempt of court proceedings against him seem to be an act of vindictiveness.

By Rakesh Raman

The Supreme Court of India found today that human rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan is guilty of contempt of court for his tweets against the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and the Indian judiciary.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said Bhushan was found to have committed “serious” contempt, and the hearing for punishment in the case will be held on August 20. According to reports, the punishment for contempt of court can go up to six months in jail, or fine, or both.

Bhushan had tweeted about the impropriety of the present CJI when he was riding an expensive motorcycle that belonged to a BJP leader in Nagpur.

He had also tweeted about the “undeclared emergency” in India and suggested that the Supreme Court had a role in ensuring its continuation.

The court had advised on July 22 that Twitter should remove Bhushan’s tweets without waiting for a formal order. Twitter succumbed and removed the tweet with the message, “This Tweet from @pbhushan1 has been withheld in IN in response to a legal demand.”

Later, on August 5, the top court had reserved its verdict in the matter after Bhushan defended his two alleged contemptuous tweets saying they were against the judges regarding their conduct in their personal capacity and they did not obstruct administration of justice.

On July 22, the top court had issued a show cause notice to Bhushan after initiating the criminal contempt against him for his two tweets. Representing Bhushan, senior advocate Dushyant Dave had submitted that Bhushan was only airing bona fide criticism against the judiciary without any malice.

Replying to the contempt notice in a detailed affidavit, Bhushan had stated that expression of bona fide opinion about the court cannot be construed as contempt. He submitted that there were several shortcomings in the functioning of the judiciary, which warranted criticism.

As Bhushan has been openly attacking PM Narendra Modi, the Modi government, and the top judiciary, the contempt of court proceedings against him seem to be an act of vindictiveness.

While the contempt cases against him are under way, Bhushan has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) case in the Supreme Court to get the accountability fixed for the mishandling of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in India.

He has accused the Indian government headed by PM Modi of gross mismanagement of the pandemic and asked the court to use its power under Article 32 to appoint an independent inquiry commission headed by a retired judge to find out the administrative lapses.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also creates and publishes a number of digital publications and research reports on different subjects. These publications include the “Covid Health Bulletin” that covers global coronavirus news and views.

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Rakesh Raman