The Supreme Court has held activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for his tweets derogatory against the judiciary and the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
The hearing on the quantum of punishment will be held on August 20, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra pronounced its verdicts in the suo motu contempt case against Prashant Bhushan for his two tweets on judiciary, CJI SA Bobde and his four predecessors.
On July 22, the SC had issued notice to Prashant Bhushan in the contempt proceeding initiated against him for his tweets, saying his statements prima facie “brought the administration of justice in disrepute”.
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.
On August 5, Prashant Bhushan defended in the Supreme Court his two tweets saying they were against the judges regarding their conduct in their personal capacity and they did not obstruct administration of justice.
A day later, Prashant Bhushan moved a plea seeking to present additional evidence if the court was not satisfied with his submissions that the contempt was not made out against him for his two tweets against judiciary.
Advocate Dushayant Dave, representing Bhushan, argued in the contempt case and said, “The two tweets were not against the institution. They are against the judges in their personal capacity regarding their conduct. They are not malicious and do not obstruct administration of justice”.
Bhushan has made immense contribution to the development of jurisprudence and there are “at least 50 judgments to his credit”, he had said, adding that the court has appreciated his contributions in cases like 2G scam, coal block allocation and in mining matters.
“Perhaps you would have given him ‘Padma Vibhushan’ for the work he did in the last 30 years,” Dave had said, adding that this was not the case where contempt proceedings would have been initiated.
While referring to the tweets by Bhushan, the SC had said these statements are prima facie capable of “undermining the dignity and authority” of the institution of the Supreme Court in general and the office of Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of the public at large.
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