Prashant Bhushan has repeatedly refused to apologise for his tweets, saying they were not done in “absence mindedness” and were nothing but a small attempt to discharge what he considered to be his “highest duty at this juncture in the history of our republic”.
The Supreme Court will pronounce its order on August 31 on the quantum of sentence for advocate-activist Prashant Bhushan, who has been held guilty for contempt of court over two of his tweets.
The bench of Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari had reserved its order on August 25 after Bhushan refused to apologise for his remarks. During the hearing, the bench expressed anguish over his criticism of “sitting and retired” judges, and said that while criticism is welcome, one “should not attribute motives to judges” since they cannot go to the press to defend themselves and “can only speak through our judgments”.
In its last hearing on the matter, Justice Mishra said it is “painful” to hear comments (against sitting and retired judges) every day. “This is not expected of a lawyer like Bhushan with 30 years of experience… This is something derogatory. Very disparaging comments have been made against this court,” he said.
On August 14, the bench had held Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for two tweets which it said were based on “distorted facts”, constituted a “scurrilous/malicious… attack” on the “entire Supreme Court”, and had the effect of “destabilising the very foundation” of the judiciary.
On August 20, the court heard arguments on the quantum of punishment to be awarded and gave Bhushan time until August 24 to submit an “unconditional apology, if he so desires”.
Prashant Bhushan writes:I do not ask for mercy, open criticism of any institution is necessary to safeguard the constitutional order
Bhushan has repeatedly refused to apologise for his tweets, saying they were not done in “absence mindedness” and were nothing but a small attempt to discharge what he considered to be his “highest duty at this juncture in the history of our republic”.
In his statement before the court, Bhushan had invoked Mahatma Gandhi while refusing to apologise to avoid sentencing.
“I can only humbly paraphrase what the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi had said in his trial: I do not ask for mercy. I do not appeal to magnanimity. I am here, therefore, to cheerfully submit to any penalty that can lawfully be inflicted upon me for what the Court has determined to be an offence, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen,” he had said.
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