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No apology, only ‘regret’ in Prashant Bhushan’s statement to SC in 2009 contempt case

Supreme Court Tuesday sought an apology from senior advocate Prashant Bhushan in the contempt case. The court said it would hear the matter if Bhushan didn't apologise.

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New Delhi: Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan Tuesday refused to tender an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court in a decade-old contempt case against him, but expressed regret if his comments had caused any hurt or lowered the prestige of the judiciary.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Bhushan said, “In my interview to Tehelka in 2009, I have used the word corruption in a wide sense meaning lack of propriety. I did not mean only financial corruption or deriving any pecuniary advantage.”

He asserted that he “regrets the same”, if his remarks “caused hurt to any of them or to their families in any way”.

“I unreservedly state that I support the institution of the judiciary and especially the Supreme Court of which I am a part, and had no intention to lower the prestige of the judiciary in which I have complete faith. I regret if my interview was misunderstood as doing so, that is, lower the reputation of the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, which could never have been my intention at all,” Bhushan added.

The case dates back to November 2009 when Bhushan gave an interview to Tehelka magazine in which he had allegedly made serious imputations against former chief justices of India S.H. Kapadia and K.G. Balakrishnan.

The Supreme Court had then taken suo motu cognisance of the statements after a complaint was filed by senior advocate Harish Salve. Before this year, the matter was last heard in May 2012.

The issue came up around 21 July 2020 when Bhushan was issued a contempt notice for two of his tweets on Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde and several former CJIs. This case will be heard next on 5 August.

Also read: Shourie, Bhushan, N Ram challenge validity of criminal contempt in SC, say it curbs free speech

Order reserved

The statement was issued after the Supreme Court Tuesday sought an apology from Bhushan in the case.

However, in its order, the bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra, Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Krishna Murari noted that it has not received any explanation or apology from Bhushan so far.

“In case we do not accept the explanation/apology, we will hear the matter,” the bench said, reserving its order on whether or not it would accept Bhushan’s statement.

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


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