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7 former SC judges back lawyer Prashant Bhushan, support call to withdraw contempt notice

The judges, who had signed a solidarity statement issued by 131 jurists & activists, called on Supreme Court to 'maintain the dignity' of the court and be open to public discussion.

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New Delhi: Seven former Supreme Court judges have endorsed a statement by 131 activists, jurists and lawyers, expressing solidarity with advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was issued a contempt notice by the top court last week.

On Wednesday, Justices Ruma Pal, G.S. Singhvi, A.K. Ganguly, Gopala Gowda, Aftab Alam, Jasti Chelameswar and Vikramjit Sen signed the solidarity statement that was released on 27 July.

The statement called upon the top court to withdraw the contempt proceedings against Bhushan “in the interest of justice and fairness and to maintain the dignity of the Supreme Court of India”.

The 131 signatories include former Supreme Court judge Madan B. Lokur and Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav. It urged the top court to reconsider its decision to initiate suo motu contempt proceedings against Bhushan.

Former Delhi HC chief justice A.P. Shah, ex-Patna HC judge Anjana Prakash, historian Ramachandra Guha author Arundhati Roy, activist Harsh Mander and lawyer Indira Jaising among several others, also signed the statement.


Also read: Why contempt case against Prashant Bhushan in Supreme Court could set a bad precedent


Contempt notice to Bhushan over 2 tweets

An apex court bench led by Justice Arun Mishra had issued notices to Bhushan and Twitter on 22 July for two of his tweets on the incumbent and former Chief Justices of India (CJIs).
The bench had said the tweets “prima facie brought the administration of justice into disrepute”.

In a tweet on 27 June, Bhushan had written about the “role of the Supreme Court” in the “destruction” of democracy during the last six years, and had also mentioned the “role of the last 4 CJIs” in it. His second tweet on 29 June commented on CJI S.A. Bobde astride a Harley Davidson bike. He had questioned the CJI for riding a bike without a helmet and a face mask, while “he keeps the SC in lockdown mode”.

During the hearing, Twitter’s counsel had sought a direction to itself to delete the tweets. But later the lawyer agreed to advise his clients to take appropriate measures in view of the court’s “prima facie” opinion. Within 72 hours of the contempt notice, Bhushan’s tweets were withheld by Twitter.

Two days later, the same bench decided to expedite another contempt case against Bhushan that has been pending for almost a decade. This case dates back to 2009 when Bhushan gave an interview to Tehelka magazine where he had allegedly made serious imputation against the then CJI S.H. Kapadia by stating that the top judge had heard a matter involving Sterlite company despite holding shares in it.

The complaint was made by senior advocate Harish Salve, who was the amicus curiae in the Sterlite case.

Concern about SC’s reluctance to ‘carry out its constitutionally mandated role’

The statement by activists and judges raised concern about the SC’s “reluctance” to carry out its “constitutionally mandated role as a check on governmental excess and violation of fundamental rights of the people by the state”.

It added that the Supreme Court must be open to public discussion without the fear of retribution.

“The principle that criticism of the judiciary should not be stifled by indiscriminate use of the power of contempt has been recognised by the Supreme Court as well as by academics and advocates of repute,” the statement said.

“The initiation of contempt proceedings against Mr. Bhushan, who had articulated some of these concerns in his tweets, appears to be an attempt at stifling such criticism, not just by Mr. Bhushan, but by all stakeholders in the Indian democratic and constitutional set-up,” read the solidarity statement.


Also read: Delhi HC directs Facebook, Google to remove ‘offending material’ on BJP’s Sasikala Pushpa


 

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Actually situation in india these time is very grim .We are residing in undeclared emergency. Al l the four pillar of democracy bacome paralysed by this govt,Right to express
    Peoples voice should not be crushed . So we shouid back Sri Bhushan

    • Does it not come to your mind that your statement turns false when your message is published and I am replying it in the public domain?

  2. All the three wings of constitution need to regain people’s confidence. Cansupreme court take on face value whatever central govt says. Example AG said no migrant worker is on roads. Was it true. If it was not true credentials of central government and judiciary are at stake

    • The lure of post-retirement perquisites are spoiling the entire establishments into prospecting. This had affected everybody, inluding administrative cadres, police and now, the judiciary. Structural changes are needed to correct this tendency

  3. The way of criticism by high profile citizen is just to show that are above the nation and its law . They failed to understand their critic idea has spread a very wrong message in society . Apex court is equally responsible in giving free hand to some people to move in any way and granted freedom of speech. Excess liberty is root cause for such days before us . Liberty and discipline are two sides of same coin ? Apex court has to certify these facts and position .
    Above the all dignity of any institution must prevail under all circumstances.

  4. THIS MAN IS A REPEAT OFFENDER AND HAS TRANSGRESSED HIS LIMITS SEVERAL TIMES. HE MAKES RUBBISH STATEMENTS AND THEN SAYS ‘SORRY’ SOMETIMES. HE HAS THE TEMERITY TO SAY THAT INDIRA GANDHI’S EMERGENCY WAS BETTER THAN MODI’S 6 YEARS’ RULE. MODI DID NOT JAIL THOUSANDS OF OPPOSITION LEADERS IN JAIL LIKE INDIRA GANDHI AND IMPOSED PRESS CENSORSHIP. eMERGENCY WAS A BLOT WHICH CANNOT BE ERASED. SHE DID NOT EVEN SPARE HER OWN PARTYMEN LIKE CHANDRA SHE,KAR, MOHAN DHARIA, KRISHNA KANT ETC. PRASHANT BHUSHAN SHOULD BE PUT BEHIND TIHAR JAIL FOR ATLEAST MINIMUM OF 3 MONTHS SO THAT HE WILL NOT DARE TO MAKE STATEMENTS WHICH HE MAKES QUITE OFTEN DENIGRATING JUDICIARY.

  5. Prashant Bhushan is a repeat offender. He has been warned multiple times by the apex court, but to no avail. He has contacts at the highest levels and thinks he can get away with anything.

  6. The Supreme Court is the last bastion for protection of democracy. Over the years we have seen an erosion in the standards of the Judiciary and the trend is accelerating nowadays. Clay seems to be the substance of choice for their feet. Effete , supine are the words that comes to my mind .

  7. Truth is on Shri Prashant Bhushan’s side. Unfortunately, the law of contempt does not regard it as adequate defence.

  8. If his father had not jumped into the fray, it might have been possible for the supreme court to the go through the motion of trial and drop the proceeding. Now, Shanti Bhushan has made more serious allegation and even given names in a sealed cover to the supreme court. Now, the court will not drop the proceeding. People like Arundhati Roy, Harsh mander, or Indira Jaisingh signing such a petition hardly surprises me. That seven formers SC judges have done it is indeed surprising. Prashant Bhushan has stepped on many a judicial toes once too often.

  9. You need to save and preserve people like Prashant Bhushan. He fights for the nation and more importantly democracy and he is not prejudiced by Congress-BJP affiliations.

    In an environment when questions and criticism at strongmen governments are being dealt with an iron hand, it is the citizens duty to uphold democratic values by speaking against these strongarm tactics.

    Else, at the end, there will be no one left to fight for you.

  10. Supreme Court could take a dim view of the campaign run to influence its decisions. If such tactics were to have even iota of influence, it will be a sad day for this constitutional construct, designed to be immune from political influences, letter writing campaigns, media machinations and to be absolutely respected regarding its decisions without question.
    SC must deliver an exemplary punishment to those who undermine its dignity- to prove that no-one repeat no-one is above the law.

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