Prashant bhushan, Supreme Court
Prashant bhushan, Supreme Court
Litigation News

[Breaking] Supreme Court lets Prashant Bhushan off in contempt case with fine of Rs. 1

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

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today sentenced Advocate Prashant Bhushan to a token fine of Rs. 1 in the contempt case against him for his tweets criticising the judiciary.

On August 25, the Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari reserved its orders on Bhushan's sentencing after finding him guilty of contempt of court for his tweets on the judiciary.

While pronouncing the verdict, Justice Mishra said,

"Judges are not supposed to go to the press, their comments outside the Court should not have been relied on."

The Bench went on to note that it had given Bhushan several opportunities to express regret for making his contemptuous statements. It also stated that Bhushan gave publicity to the events surrounding the contempt case by going to the press. It said,

"Court's decision should not be preempted by publication of opinions in the press."

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

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

Bhushan had filed a supplementary statement reiterating his position to stand by his tweets, and had refused 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.

Dhavan, who was representing Bhushan, had urged the Court instead to send out a general message and not punish Bhushan. Attorney General KK Venugopal, on the other hand, 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.

The Court, however, pointed out to AG Venugopal that Bhushan did not express regret, but instead chose to reiterate his position of not apologising for the contentious tweets. In a candid dialogue that followed between the Bench and the lawyers present at the hearing, the Court expressed the "hurt" and the "pain" caused to the institution when such allegations are made.

The two tweets in question were posted in June this year. The first tweet pertained to Bhushan’s commentary on a picture of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on a high-end motorcycle, whereas in the second, Bhushan expressed his opinion on the role of last four CJIs amid the state of affairs in the country.

The Court had initially fixed August 20 as the day for determining the sentence to be imposed on Bhushan. However, the Court deferred the matter further to August 25 after the August 20 hearing, to give Bhushan another chance to tender an unconditional apology. Bhushan, however, refused to apologise, instead filed his supplementary statement and the effect of the same was considered by the Court and then judgement reserved.

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