Harish Salve and Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court
Harish Salve and Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court
Litigation News

2009 Contempt Case against Prashant Bhushan: LIVE UPDATES from Supreme Court hearing

In the last hearing, the Court had expressed its inclination to examine larger questions that it opined were raised in the case.

Bar & Bench

The Supreme Court is hearing the contempt case against Advocate Prashant Bhushan over allegations made by him in an interview against former Chief Justices of India SH Kapadia and KG Balakrishnan.

During the interview, Bhushan also allegedly said that half of the preceding 16 Chief Justices of India were corrupt. As per the complaint, Bhushan also said that he had no proof of the allegations.

The Supreme Court had subsequently taken suo motu notice of the issue after a complaint to this effect was filed by Senior Advocate Harish Salve, Amicus in the case. The contempt petition was held to be maintainable by a three-judge Bench on November 10, 2010.

On August 10, this year, the Court decided to hear the matter on merits. A week later, the Court expressed its inclination to examine larger questions that it opined were raised in the case.

As regards the charges of contempt against Bhushan in this instant case, the Bench had expressed its inclination to "put a quietus" to the issue.

Live updates of the hearing today feature on this page.

Hearing commences before the Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari.

Senior Counsel Rajeev Dhavan, for Prashant Bhushan, is the first to address the Court

Dhavan at the outset says that:

  • Notice should be issued to the office of Attorney General to obtain an independent opinion;

  • The questions framed by the Court need to be heard by the Constitution Bench.

Dhavan says that a revised list of questions has been filed on behalf of Bhushan for consideration by a Constitution Bench. Dhavan is reading out the list of 10 revised questions (from the IA).

The questions raised by Bhushan include whether bona fide opinions of corruption also constitute contempt of court, whether it is enough to show bona fides of opinion or it is necessary for the person to prove the allegation of corruption, whether a complainant is barred from discussing in public domain the contents of his complaint if an in-house inquiry is started, among others.

Dhavan: These are the questions we believe arise from this case and need to be resolved once and for all. Your Lordships have also indicated some questions on the last occasion.

Justice Mishra: Some of the questions from your list, how can they be decided without any pleadings?

Dhavan: If your Lordships are going to consider, then it's one thing ..the central theme of the questions - the major question - is what is the impact on Free Speech?

Dhavan: The central under thread is in relation to Articles 129 and 215 irrespective of the Constitution, and in particular with respect to Article19(1)(a).

This goes to the heart of Prashant Bhushan's defence and to the heart of the main issue.

Dhavan: Is Section 13 to be read with Articles 19 and 21 even when Your Lordships exercise your suo motu power?

Justice Mishra hints at letting these questions be decided by the appropriate Bench.

Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, for Tarun Tejpal, supports Dhavan's submissions

Dhavan: Can notice also be issued to the office of Attorney General?

Justice Mishra: We think it should go beyond only AG office, maybe some Amicus also?

Justice Mishra : Dr. Dhavan, people come to the Court for relief. If that faith is shaken, what should be the procedure?

Sibal: There is also a larger principle that however high you are, the law is above you... It should apply to everyone equally.

Justice Mishra: This institution belongs to all of you...

Sibal: We will come and go but the institution exists forever. We must protect the integrity of the institution.

ORDER: Supreme Court directs Prashant Bhushan's 2009 Contempt Matter to be placed before an appropriate Bench.

The Matter to be posted on September 10, 2020.

(Justice Mishra retires on September 2, 2020)

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