Referring to the Bhushan Motorbike Tweet, the SC said, “The said Tweet is capable of giving the layman the illusion that the CJI enjoys a trip on a motorbike worth Rs 50 lakh belonging to the BJP chief at a time when it has held the Supreme Court in lock-down mode denying people their constitutional right to access justice.
On Friday, the Supreme Court rejected its conventional “dogs the bark, the caravan will pass” approach and set an example of advocate Prashan Bhushan by holding him guilty of criminal contempt of court for his two “false and malicious” tweets.
In their unanimous 108-page judgment, the judges Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari said Bhushan’s tweets — one that accused the CJI of riding a Rs 50-lakh motorbike while holding the SC locked, and the other that the present and four former CJIs played a role in the destruction of democracy in the last six years — were a deliberate effort to scandalize the CJI and the SC and the SC.
Pronouncing the judgment and thus suggesting that it was its author, Justice Gavai read one paragraph, “We hold Prashan Bhushan guilty of committing criminal contempt for this court.” Bhushan’s counsel, Dushyant Dave, was asked by Bhushan to appear before the court on the quantum of punishment on 20 August.Ironically, the SC did not use the Contempt of Court Act of 1971 to convict Bhushan. It has used its inherent powers under Article 129 of the Constitution to punish itself for contempt. While the Contempt of Court Act allows for a maximum term of six months for criminal contempt, Article 129 does not allow for an outer limit.
Referring to the Bhushan Motorbike Tweet, the SC said, “The said Tweet is capable of giving the layman the illusion that the CJI enjoys a trip on a motorbike worth Rs 50 lakh belonging to the BJP chief at a time when it has held the Supreme Court in lock-down mode denying people their constitutional right to access justice.” “From 23 March to 4 August, the various benches of the court sat daily and carried out their duties by videoconferencing, during which time the court heard 12,748 cases.During that time, this court dealt with 686 written petitions, including several of the PILs that Bhushan argued for, “he added.
The bench said that Bhushan also personally moved the SC questioning registration of the FIR against him in Rajkot and had been exempted from arrest. “Making such a wild accusation is malicious and scandalous. It threatens to shake public trust in the institution of the judiciary and the institution of the CJI and weaken the integrity and legitimacy of the administration of justice.We cannot support Bhushan ‘s argument that that statement was a bona fide criticism of him on account of his frustration that the courts did not work physically, “said Justices Mishra, Gavai and Murari.
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On Bhushan’s tweet about the destruction of democracy and the role of the present and previous four CJIs, the SC said that ordinary citizens would feel that “when historians look back in the future, the impression they will get is that, in the last six years, democracy has been destroyed in India without a formal emergency, and that the Supreme Court has played a particular role in that destruction and in the last six years.
“Bhushan, as part of the institution of the administration of justice, instead of defending the dignity of law, has indulged in an act that appears to lead to disrepute. Bhushan is expected to act as the responsible officer of this court. Scurrilous charges are not expected from a 30-year-old lawyer,” he said. “The tweet has the effect of destabilizing the very core of this significant pillar of Indian democracy and is completely at odds with the majesty of law,” he said.
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This post is written by Kosha Doshi.
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