New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday issued contempt notice to Advocate Prashant Bhushan for two of his tweets on Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde as well as former CJIs.
A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari asked Bhushan to show cause as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him.
In one of his tweets on 27 June, Bhushan had written about the “role of the Supreme Court” in the “destruction” of democracy during the last 6 years, and had also mentioned the “role of the last 4 CJIs” in it.
In another tweet, on 29 June, Bhushan had commented on Chief Justice of India 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”.
The bench also issued notice to Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, to seek his opinion on the issue. Twitter Incorporated will also be filing a reply.
While the apex court had initiated a suo motu case against Bhushan Tuesday, a Madhya Pradesh lawyer, Mahek Maheshwari had also filed a petition against Bhushan and Twitter on 2 July, asking for contempt proceedings to be initiated against Bhushan.
He had cited Bhushan’s Harley Davidson tweet.
Maheshwari’s petition had called Bhushan’s remarks “too inhuman”, and had highlighted the efforts of the judges in ensuring that cases were being heard through video conferencing. The petition noted that the tweet put a “big question on the sovereign functions of the CJI and their abiding nature to the Constitution”.
Maheshwari also called the tweet a “cheap publicity stunt… to spread hatred in the form of anti-India campaign”.
The matter will be heard next on 5 August.
Not the first time Bhushan’s tweets have landed him in trouble
This isn’t the first time that Bhushan’s tweet has landed him within the court’s contempt jurisdiction.
In March 2019, AG Venugopal and the central government had filed a contempt plea against Bhushan, for his tweet alleging that the government misled the Supreme Court on the appointment of M. Nageswara Rao as the interim Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
However, during the proceedings, Bhushan accepted that he had made a “genuine mistake”, prompting Venugopal to offer to withdraw his contempt plea.
However, in the meantime, Bhushan had filed an application seeking Justice Mishra’s recusal from the bench hearing the case. Following this, the central government remained firm about not withdrawing the contempt plea.
While hearing the case, the court decided to examine whether it was open to anyone criticising court proceedings in order to influence public opinion and to what extent this affects the rights of litigants and administration of justice.
This matter was last heard in April 2019.