The Indian Constitutional democracy stands on the bedrock of rule of law. The trust, faith and confidence of the citizens of the country in the judicial system is sine qua non for existence of rule of law. An attempt to shake the very foundation of constitutional democracy has to be dealt with an iron hand, said the Supreme Court while holding Advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of Contempt of Court.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court today held Prashant Bhushan guilty of Contempt of Court. The court was to deliver its judgment today on the suo motu contempt case initiated against the advocate for two of his contentious tweets that allegedly brought disrepute to the institution of the top court.
The bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari however will decide on the quantum of sentence on August 20.
The bench had reserved its order on August 5 after hearing Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for Bhushan.
The matter pertains to suo motu criminal contempt proceedings initiated against Bhushan for his tweets against the Chief Justice SA Bobde and four other former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court.
Bhushan from his personal twitter handle on June 27 had tweeted against the former CJIs of the Supreme Court.
The other tweet by Prashant Bhushan was the one tagging picture of the Chief Justice on Twitter on June 29.
“The alleged contemnor being part of the institution of administration of justice, instead of protecting the majesty of law has indulged into an act, which tends to bring disrepute to the institution of administration of justice. The alleged contemnor No.1 is expected to act as a responsible officer of this Court. The scurrilous allegations, which are malicious in nature and have the tendency to scandalize the Court are not expected from a person, who is a lawyer of 30 years standing. In our considered view, it cannot be said that the above tweets can be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary, made bona fide in the public interest,” said the Court.
“The tweet has the effect of destabilising the very foundation of this important pillar of the Indian democracy. The tweet clearly tends to give an impression, that the Supreme Court, which is a highest constitutional court in the country, has in the last six years played a vital role in destruction of the Indian democracy. There is no manner of doubt, that the tweet tends to shake the public confidence in the institution of judiciary,” said the Court.
The Court held, In our considered view, the said tweet undermines the dignity and authority of the institution of the Supreme Court of India and the CJI and directly affronts the majesty of law.
“The summary jurisdiction of this Court is required to be exercised not to vindicate the dignity and honour of the individual judge, who is personally attacked or scandalised, but to uphold the majesty of the law and of the administration of justice. The tweets which are based on the distorted facts, in our considered view, amount to committing of ‘criminal contempt’,” said the Court.
The hearing on the quantum of punishment to be held on August 20.
Read the Judgment here;14323_2020_32_1502_23453_Judgement_14-Aug-2020
– India Legal Bureau