In a 108-page judgment condemning activist-advocate Prashant Bhushan for contempt of court for his “false and malicious” tweets to scandalize the SC, the Supreme Court said that if the Supreme Court of the Land could not defend itself from malicious attacks aimed at shaking public confidence in the “epitome of the Indian judiciary,” it would send a warning.
The Supreme Court said on Friday that it would always take a magnanimous approach to fair criticism of judges, decisions and courts, but cautioned that the mischievous attacks on the judiciary, which it claimed to be the core pillar of Indian democracy based on the cornerstone of public confidence in the institution, will be dealt with by an iron fist.
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Facts of the case
In a 108-page judgment condemning activist-advocate Prashant Bhushan for contempt of court for his “false and malicious” tweets to scandalize the SC, the Supreme Court of Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari said that if the Supreme Court of the Land could not defend itself from malicious attacks aimed at shaking public confidence in the “epitome of the Indian judiciary,” it would send a warning.
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Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Gavai said, “The judiciary is seen as the last hope that a person does not get justice elsewhere. The SC is the epitome of the Indian justice system. An assault on the SC not only has the effect of leading the ordinary litigant to lose trust in the SC, but may also appear to lose faith in the minds of other judges in the Supreme Court of the country. The risk of other judges getting the perception that they would not be safe from malicious attacks, because the SC has struggled to defend itself from malicious insinuations, can not be ruled out.
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The bench said that the judiciary was not only one of the pillars of Indian democracy, but also
the central pillar. “Indian parliamentary democracy is at the heart of the rule of law. The confidence, faith and trust of the people of the country in the justice system is sine qua non for the life of the rule of law. The effort to shake the very foundations of constitutional democracy must be dealt with by an iron hand. The tweet (from Bhushan) has the effect of destabilizing the very core of this essential pillar of Indian democracy, “they added.
Referring to dozens of judgments on contempt of court from 1953 to 2020, Justice Gavai said that the SC has largely adopted a magnanimous approach to fair criticism, however stinging it may be, of judges, judgments and the judiciary. Yet he cautioned that special interests would not see it as a weakness.
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“In order to preserve the broader public interest, these efforts to undermine the highest judiciary should be dealt with in the most possible doubt that the court must be magnanimous when it comes to challenging judges or the administration of justice. However, such magnanimity can not be extended to such an extent that it can amount to a weakness in dealing with a malicious, scurrilous, calculated attack on the very foundation of the institution of justice and thus damage the very foundation of democracy, “the bench said.
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This post is written by Kosha Doshi.
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