Prashant Bhushan was asked to pay Re 1 as fine for contempt of court over two of his tweets criticising the judiciary
Prashant Bhushan was asked to pay Re 1 as fine for contempt of court over two of his tweets criticising the judiciary
Litigation News

I propose to submit myself to order of SC, I reserve my right to seek review: Prashant Bhushan on Rs 1 fine imposed for contempt of court

Prashant Bhushan stated that he had the greatest respect for the Supreme Court, adding that the issue was never about him vs. the Supreme Court. "When the Supreme Court of India wins, every Indian wins", he said

Debayan Roy

Hours after a Justice Arun Mishra led bench of the Supreme Court imposed a Re 1 fine on Advocate Prashant Bhushan for criminal contempt, Bhushan in a press conference stated that he would pay the fine imposed while reserving his right to pursue legal remedies to challenge the top Court's verdict.

"While I reserve the right to seek a review of the conviction and sentencing, by way of an appropriate legal remedy, I propose to submit myself to this order and will respectfully pay the fine, just as I would have submitted to any other lawful punishment."

said Bhushan at the press conference

Bhushan stated that he had the greatest respect for the institution of the Supreme Court and that he believed it to be the last bastion of hope "particularly for the weak and the oppressed who knock at its door for the protection of their rights, often against a powerful executive."

The Justice Arun Mishra led bench today observed that it had given Bhushan several opportunities to express regret for making his contemptuous statements.

It also expressed disapproval over Bhushan having given publicity to the events surrounding the contempt case by going to the press, observing that it improper "clearly an attempt to coerce the decision of the Court by the influence of newspaper and media."

However, the Bench ultimately saw it fit to impose a token fine of Re. 1 on Bhushan.

However, speaking at the press conference, Bhushan reiterated that his "tweets were not intended in any way to disrespect the Supreme Court or the judiciary as a whole", but were merely meant to express his anguish, at what he felt, "was a deviation from its sterling past record."

"This issue was never about me versus the Hon’ble Judges, much less about me vs the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court of India wins, every Indian wins. Every Indian wants a strong and independent judiciary. Obviously if the courts get weakened, it weakens the republic and harms every citizen."
Prashant Bhushan

The Bench today also made it clear that if Bhushan defaults on the payment of the fine, he may be sent to prison for three months and may be debarred from practising in the Supreme Court for three years.

Bhushan had earlier filed a supplementary statement reiterating his position to stand by his tweets and had refusing to apologise. When this supplementary statement was considered by the Court, Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan had urged the Court not to make Bhushan a martyr by imprisoning him.

Advocate Bhushan while accepting the fine imposed on him further stated that he was "extremely grateful and humbled by the solidarity and support expressed by countless persons, ex-judges, lawyers, activists and fellow citizens who encouraged me to remain firm and true to my beliefs and conscience".

"They strengthen my hope that this trial may draw the country's attention to the cause of freedom of speech and judicial accountability and reform. What is very heartening is that this case has become a watershed moment for freedom of speech and seems to have encouraged many people to stand up and speak out against the injustices in our society."

said Prashant Bhushan.

He signed off by thanking his counsels, Senior Advocates Rajeev Dhavan and Dushyant Dave stating that he believed the "truth will prevail."

Dhavan, who was representing Bhushan, had urged the Court earlier to send out a general message and not to punish Bhushan. Attorney General KK Venugopal had proposed that Bhushan be let off with a warning,

Dhavan argued that when a person is indicted for contempt, he has a right to present a defence and that an apology cannot be coerced from a contemnor. AG Venugopal, on the other hand, had requested the Court to let Bhushan off suggesting that Bhushan may express regret and withdraw the affidavit that was filed by him in his defence.

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