The Supreme Court has, on Monday, pronounced its verdict on the case of the contempt of court filed against senior advocate-activist Prashant Bhushan over his two tweets against the judiciary and sentenced the advocate to a fine of Re 1 and the apex court had directed Bhushan to pay the penalty by September 15, failing which he would be imprisoned for three months and be debarred from practicing law for three years.
The development has come as a sequel for the advocate's tweets that stirred controversy as it arrowed against the Chief Justices. In one of his tweets, Bhushan said that four previous Chief Justices of India played a role in destroying democracy in India in the last six years. His other tweet had carried the photo of sitting Chief Justice Bodbe on a Harley Davidson and the advocate said that the Chief Justice was without a helmet and face mask while keeping the court in lockdown and denying citizens their right to justice.
Following his tweets that carried derogatory remarks, the Supreme Court had taken the case and filed a contempt of court against the senior advocate. On August 14, the apex court had held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his two disparaging tweets against the judiciary by stating that they cannot be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary made in the public interest. Initially, the court had asked the advocate to place his unconditional apology over his tweets.
Supreme Court imposes a fine of Re 1 fine on Prashant Bhushan. In case of default, he will be barred from practising for 3 years & will be imprisoned of 3 months https://t.co/0lMbqiizBb— ANI (@ANI) August 31, 2020
However, Prashant Bhushan had refused to offer his apology and said that offering an apology would be contempt of his conscience and he stated that the grounds of open criticism were necessary to safeguard the democracy and its values. Though the advocate refuted to offer an apology, the apex court had on August 20 awarded time for Bhushan till Monday to tender an unconditional apology over his derogatory tweets.
The case was heard by the Supreme Court bench comprised of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai, and Krishna Murari and the bench had reserved the verdict on August 25. Bhushan was facing simple imprisonment of up to six months or with a fine of up to Rs 2,000 or with both as punishment under the Contempt of Court Act. During the hearing on August 25, advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who was representing Bhushan, had urged the apex court to show judicial statesmanship and not make Bhushan a martyr by punishing him for contempt over his tweets criticizing the judiciary.
Rajeev Dhavan had appealed to the court not to impose any sentence on Prashant Bhushan and called the bench to end the controversy and close the case. Attorney General KK Venugopal had also requested the court to forgive Bhushan by directing him to not repeat such acts in the future. The Supreme Court resumed the hearing on Monday and pronounced its verdict.
On Monday, the apex court bench said it has considered the advice placed by the Attorney General Venugopal and said that Bhushan's conduct also needs to be taken into consideration. The court noted that Bhushan had given wider publicity to his statements by going to press and said he had made disparaging remarks against the institution and the judges. The Attorney General said that Bhushan should withdraw his statements and express regret.
The Supreme Court observed that Bhushan is not willing to extend the apology and it has sentenced the senior advocate to a fine of Re 1 for the case of the contempt of court filed against him and directed that he has to pay the penalty by September 15 otherwise he would be jailed for three months and be barred from practicing the law for three years.
My lawyer and senior colleague Rajiv Dhavan contributed 1 Re immediately after the contempt judgement today which I gratefully accepted: Prashant Bhushan https://t.co/o6mQ8kgd2Q— ANI (@ANI) August 31, 2020
According to ANI, following the verdict, Prashant Bhushan said, "My lawyer and senior colleague Rajiv Dhavan contributed 1 Re immediately after the contempt judgement today which I gratefully accepted".