New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday said it will commence the final hearing of a decade-old contempt case against advocate Prashant Bhushan from 4 August.
“We need to hear the matter. This case needs to be heard by someone. We need to start the hearing at least,” said a bench led by Justice Arun Mishra-led and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari.
The same bench had issued a fresh contempt notice against Bhushan Wednesday for his tweets on Chief Justice of India (CJI) S.A. Bobde as well as other CJIs. The bench took a view that Bhushan’s tweets had brought disrepute to the judicial institution. Notices were also issued to Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and Twitter Inc.
The case heard Friday 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.
In the same interview, Bhushan had claimed that half of India’s last 16 CJIs were corrupt.
Bhushan’s father and former Union law minister, senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, had earlier sought to implead himself as a party in the case. He had filed a detailed affidavit in a sealed envelope, asserting the allegations made by his son were correct. The matter was last heard in 2012.
Hold open court hearing, say Bhushans
In his address to the court Friday, Shanti Bhushan urged the judges to hold an open court hearing of the matter. Due to his age, it is very hard to address the court via video-conferencing, he told the bench.
“I request to adjourn the matter to when normal court proceeding is resumed. It’s an old case. It has waited for these years, it can wait a few more weeks for normal functioning to resume,” he submitted.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, on behalf of Prashant Bhushan, voiced a similar view. He said his own case papers have been locked away. “Old records will have to be gone into. Questions of law will have to be considered whether a special bench should take up matter. We need time to go through records,” Dhawan said.
Shanti Bhushan then insisted on arguing his impleadment application. However, the bench was reluctant to hear it.
“Mr Bhushan, you are too senior to be impleaded in the matter. We don’t want to inconvenience you,” it said.
“Your application says in case your son is held guilty you would be willing to go to jail. That is not a legal argument that we would hear. Argument made out of love and affection is not a legal argument,” the bench added.
Salve, too, pointed out that some of the papers of the case are in office in New Delhi and he needs to get them. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for Tehelka and said he also required some time to study the papers.