Contempt case against Prashant Bhushan appears to be attempt to stifle criticism: Ex-Judges, activists, lawyers issue solidarity statement

Stating that Prashant Bhushan had raised concerns echoed by many people, the statement has urged the Court to "address these genuine concerns."
Contempt case against Prashant Bhushan appears to be attempt to stifle criticism: Ex-Judges, activists, lawyers issue solidarity statement
131 persons including former Judges and lawyers issued a statement in solidarity with Prashant Bhushan

Over a hundred persons from civil society including former Judges, activists, political leaders, academicians etc. have issued a statement in solidarity with Advocate Prashant Bhushan in view of the initiation of suo motu contempt of Court proceedings against him.

The Supreme Court recently issued notice to Bhushan, Twitter as well as Attorney General for India KK Venugopal on a complaint filed against Bhushan for publishing tweets which allegedly “brought disrepute” to the institution of the Supreme Court. Initiation of these proceedings appears to be an attempt to stifle criticism of the judiciary, the statement says.

131 persons including former Judges and lawyers issued a statement in solidarity with Prashant Bhushan
Breaking: Supreme Court issues notice to Prashant Bhushan, Twitter, and AG Venugopal in suo motu contempt case filed over tweet on CJI Bobde

The contempt proceedings against Bhushan must be reconsidered by the Court, the signatories of this statement have urged. The solidarity statement adds that the criticism against the Judiciary must not be stifled and this principle is well recognized by the Supreme Court itself. As such, the statement reads,

“in the interest of justice and fairness and to maintain the dignity of the Supreme Court of India, we urge the Court to reconsider its decision to initiate suo-moto contempt proceedings against Mr. Prashant Bhushan and to withdraw the same at the earliest.”

An institution like the Supreme Court must be open to public discussion without the people fearing retribution or criminal proceedings against them. This statement also highlights that criminal contempt of Court, as an offence, has been rendered redundant in many democracies including the USA and the UK.

The tweets in question, which had led to the contempt proceedings against Bhushan, raise genuine concerns which are echoed by many people, the solidarity statements says. The signatories add that the Court should, in fact, address the grievances raised therein.

“We urge the Hon’ble judges of the Supreme Court to take note of these concerns and engage with the public in an open and transparent manner. The initiation of contempt proceedings against Mr. Bhushan who had articulated some of these concerns in his tweets, appears to be an attempt at stifling such criticism, not just by Prashant Bhushan but by all stakeholders in the Indian democratic and constitutional setup. We believe the institution must address these genuine concerns.”
131 persons including former Judges and lawyers issued a statement in solidarity with Prashant Bhushan
[BREAKING] Twitter "Withholds" Advocate Prashant Bhushan's Tweets after Suo Motu Contempt Notice by Supreme Court

Bhushan, in his individual capacity has been a “crusader” for many causes, the signatories go on to say. They add that the reluctance of the Court to undertake its constitutionally mandated role in the recent migrant worker crisis issue is something that was felt not only by Bhushan but many others. Retribution meted out to Bhushan is a way of stifling criticism and this action must be reconsidered, the statement says.

131 persons including former Judges and lawyers issued a statement in solidarity with Prashant Bhushan
"We will give time but know our responsibility", Supreme Court to hear 11-year-old contempt case against Prashant Bhushan on August 4

This solidarity statement has been signed by the likes of Justice (retd.) Madan Lokur, Justice (retd.) AP Shah, retired bureaucrats, activists like Aakar Patel, Arundhati Roy, Anjali Bhardwaj, Beswada Wilson, Medha Patkar, Harsh Mander, Jagdeep Chhokar, Teesta Setalvad, Lawyers like Anand Grover, CU Singh, Gopal Sankaranarayanan, Indira Jaising, Mihir Desai, Vrinda Grover, politicians likle D Raja, Brinda Karat, Economist Jean Dreze, former LG of Delhi Najeeb Jung, Former CICs Wajahat Habibullah and Shailesh Gandhi, among many others.

The statement has been signed by as many as 131 signatories.

Update: As on July 29, eight more retired Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts have endorsed the solidarity statement.

While Justices (retd.) Madan Lokur and AP Shah were part of the first set of signatories, the following retired Judges have now come to endorse the statement of solidarity:

  • Justice Ruma Pal, former judge of the Supreme Court of India

  • Justice G. S. Singhvi, former judge of the Supreme Court of India

  • Justice Asok K Ganguly, former judge of the Supreme Court of India

  • Justice Gopala Gowda, former judge of the Supreme Court of India

  • Justice Aftab Alam, former judge of the Supreme Court of India

  • Justice Jasti Chelameswar, former judge of the Supreme Court of India

  • Justice Vikramjit Sen, former judge of the Supreme Court of India

  • Justice Anjana Prakash, former judge of the Patna High Court

Read the Statement:

Attachment
PDF
Solidarity statement for Prashant Bhushan.pdf
Preview

Related Stories

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news
www.barandbench.com