- Supreme Court asks Prashant Bhushan to “reconsider statement”
- Advocate-Activist said his tweets were seen wrongly
- Prashant Bhushan also requests that arguments on sentencing should be heard by other bench
A week after the lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan was found in contempt of court for his two tweets on the Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and the Supreme Court of India, Prashant Bhushan, on Thursday, was told that he is ‘pained” that he has been “grossly misunderstood” by the Supreme Court of India.
Today afternoon, the apex court, told the 63 year olf advocate “to reconsider” his statement as Justice Mishra said, “There is no person on Earth who cannot commit a mistake. A person should be able to realise his make from the core of his heart. I am not someone who would punish anyone just like that.”
Prashant Bhushan had earlier requested the Supreme Court to defer his hearing on the sentence in this contempt of court proceedings against him and said to the court “I am pained to hear that I am held guilty of contempt of court. I am pained not because of the would-be sentencing, but because I am being grossly misunderstood. I believe that an open criticism is necessary to safeguard the democracy and its values.”
When the Supreme Court asked him to reconsider his statement, Bhushan said, “I may reconsider it if my lordships want but there won’t be any substantial change. I don’t want to waste my lordships’ time. I will consult my lawyer.”
To which Justice Arun Kumar Mishra replied “You better reconsider it… don’t just apply legal brain here.”
During the hearing, Prashant Bhushan said, “My tweets need to be seen as an attempt for working for the betterment of the institution. My tweets were a small attempt to discharge what I consider my highest duty.”
He added, “Apologising would also be a dereliction of my duty. I do not ask for mercy. I do not appeal to magnanimity. I cheerfully submit to any punishment that court may impose,”.
Justice Arun Mishra, replying to the lawyer, said, “There is a Lakshman Rekha (boundary) for everything. Why cross it? We welcome pursuing good cases in the public interest but remember, this is now after conviction. And it is a serious thing. I haven’t convicted anyone of contempt in 24 years as a judge. This is my first such order.”
Justice Mishra also said, “Freedom of speech is not absolute to anyone, to me, to press. We have to tell everyone that this is the line. There’s no problem in being an activist but we have to say this is the line. Right or wrong, we have now found you guilty,”.
The top court said, “We can assure you that no punishment will be acted upon until your review is decided,”. Having said this, the court also rejected his request that another bench should hear arguments on the quantum of sentence.
The court said, “You are asking us to commit an act of impropriety that arguments on sentencing should be heard by other bench,”.
In one of the Tweets for which Prashant Bhushan has been held guilty of contempt of court, he had said, “four previous Chief Justices of India played a role in destroying democracy in India in the last six years”.
The other accused CJI S A Bobde of riding a motorcycle where was he photographed sitting on a Harley Davidson superbike in Nagpur last month without a helmet and a face mask while keeping the court in lockdown and stripping down the citizens of their right to justice.
In an affidavit dated 3rd of August, Prashant Bhushan said that he regretted some of what he has tweeted and asserted that the criticism of the CJI S A Bobde “does not scandalise” the court or lower its authority.
Just last week, the Supreme Court of India discharged Twitter from this contempt of court case for publishing Prashant Bhushan’s tweets saying it accepts the explanation given by the US-based microblogging website which including that they do not have control over what people post, however, they do take actions when something is reported and had done the same by removing Prashant Bhushan’s tweets.