Supreme Court Urged to End Case Against Human Rights Lawyer Prashant Bhushan

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

More than 100 members of the civil society have urged the Supreme Court of India to withdraw criminal contempt proceedings against lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, who is known for his comments about the flaws in the judicial system.

In their appeal issued Monday (July 27), a former Supreme Court judge Madan Lokur and 130 prominent citizens called upon the top court to withdraw the case against Bhushan in the interest of justice and fairness and to maintain the dignity of the court.

Recently, according to reports, Bhushan had tweeted about the impropriety of the present Chief Justice of India (CJI) when he was riding an expensive motorcycle that belonged to a BJP leader in Nagpur.

Bhushan 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.”

But the Supreme Court has initiated two contempt cases against Bhushan which are listed for hearing on August 4 and 5. In addition to the case related to his tweets, another case refers to a 2009 statement that he had made in a local magazine, saying that half of the 16 CJIs of India had been corrupt.

Although the civil society members are demanding the withdrawal of cases against Bhushan, the chattering classes insist that his corruption allegations against the top judges should be thoroughly tried in the court to bring forth the truth of judicial corruption in India.

It is learnt that Justice Arun Mishra will hear the contempt proceedings against Bhushan. Mishra is known for his loyalty and devotion to Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi. In February, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) had issued a resolution to denounce Justice Arun Mishra’s praise for PM Modi at an event in Delhi.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) issued a resolution to denounce Justice Arun Mishra’s praise for Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) issued a resolution to denounce Justice Arun Mishra’s praise for Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi.

In their statement of solidarity with Bhushan, the civil society members expressed their concern with the initiation of contempt proceedings against human rights activist and advocate, Prashant Bhushan, by the Supreme Court of India.

They said Bhushan has been a relentless crusader for the rights of the weakest sections of our society and has spent his career in pro bono legal service to those who do not have ready access to justice.

They added that Bhushan has fought cases at the apex court on issues ranging from environmental protection, human rights, civil liberties, corruption in high places, and has been an outspoken champion for judicial accountability and reforms, especially in the higher judiciary.

In 2018, Bhushan had filed a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), urging the agency to register an FIR against PM Modi and former defence minister Manohar Parrikar, allegedly for a range of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, committed in the course of the April 2015 decision to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft from Dassault Aviation.

He has also been instrumental in initiating public interest litigation (PIL) against the government and PM Modi, including the litigation that demanded a probe into the Sahara-Birla payoff case.

Earlier, in January, Bhushan had tweeted, “When the history of today’s times is written, where we are witnessing the gravest assault on our Constitution, Democracy, Rights, culture & Civilization (more serious than even Emergency) the Supreme Court will stand out as an Institution which collapsed & allowed it to happen.”

As 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, 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