Prashant Bhushan urges SC to defer Aug 20 hearing on sentence in contempt of court

A Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra had held him guilty of contempt of court on Aug 14 for scandalising the judiciary

Prashant Bhushan urges SC to defer Aug 20 hearing on sentence in contempt of court

Prashant Bhushan. File photo

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 19

Convicted of contempt of court for his tweets against CJI SA Bobde and last four CJIs, activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court urging it to defer arguments on the sentence scheduled for August 20.

In an application filed a day before the all-important hearing, Bhushan said he intended to file a petition seeking review of the August 14 order convicting him of contempt of court for scandalising the judiciary.

He prayed that the hearing on the sentence be deferred until the proposed review petition is filed and decided. "The applicant undertakes to file the review within 30 days from the date of judgment, as he is entitled under the law," he submitted.

He requested the top court to defer Thursday's hearing on the sentence "in the interests of justice pending consideration of the review application that petitioner intends to file within the limitation period..."

Alternatively, he said, "If this Hon’ble Court proceeds with the hearing on sentence and imposes any sentence, the same may be directed to be stayed till the remedy of review is exhausted by the applicant," Bhushan submitted.

He submitted that "human judgement is not infallible. Despite all the provisions ensuring a fair trial and a just decision, mistakes are possible and errors cannot be ruled out".

Bhushan said, "The fact that there is no appeal against an order of this Hon’ble Court makes it doubly necessary that it takes the utmost precaution to ensure that justice is not only done but is seen to be done."

The Supreme Court had on August 14 held him guilty of contempt of court for his tweets against Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and last four CJIs, saying, “Such an attack which tends to create disaffection and disrespect for the authority of this court cannot be ignored.”

A three-judge Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had said, “The scurrilous/malicious attacks by the alleged contemnor No. 1 (Bhushan) are not only against one or two judges but the entire Supreme Court in its functioning of the last six years. Such an attack which tends to create disaffection and disrespect for the authority of this court cannot be ignored.”

It said, “If an attack is made to shake the confidence that the public at large has in the institution of judiciary, such an attack has to be dealt with firmly…If such an attack is not dealt with, with requisite degree of firmness, it may affect the national honour and prestige in the comity of nations.”

The Bench – which also included Justice BR Gavai and Justice Krishna Murari - had fixed August 20 to hear arguments on the sentence. The maximum sentence prescribed under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, is six-month imprisonment with a fine of Rs 2,000.

He is also facing criminal contempt proceedings in an 11-year-old case in which he had expressed regret but refused to apologise.

Describing “fearless and impartial courts of justice” as the bulwark of a healthy democracy”, the top court had said, “The confidence in them cannot be permitted to be impaired by malicious attacks upon them.”

Recently Bhushan had tweeted, "CJI rides a 50 Lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice!"

In another tweet on June 27, he had said, “When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs.”

 

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