Won't apologize, says Prashant Bhushan; SC asks to "reconsider" statement
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who was held guilty of contempt for his tweets slamming Chief Justice of India and Supreme Court, told the apex court on Friday that he isn't apologetic for the posts. He said he was merely discharging his duties as a citizen, and would accept any punishment cheerfully. Meanwhile, noting anyone can commit mistakes, SC has asked him to reconsider his statement.
Bhushan was unhappy with the current CJI and his predecessors
In the tweets, which landed Bhushan in rough waters, he had derided CJI SA Bobde and the apex body. Posting a picture of CJI Bobde, riding a Harley Davidson bike, Bhushan wrote the former was enjoying while SC was locked down. The second tweet targeted the last four CJIs. He said history won't be kind to them for compromising the values of democracy and the judiciary.
Three-judge bench decided that Bhushan brought disrepute to SC
Subsequently, a three-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai, and Krishna Murari underlined last week that Bhushan's comments brought disrepute to SC while saying that quantum of punishment would be decided today. On Thursday, the apex court rejected Bhushan's submission, which pleaded that another bench should hand him over the punishment. He said he intended to file a review plea.
Have been misunderstood, pained by it: Bhushan
Today, during the hearing, Justice Mishra assured Bhushan that his sentence won't be imposed until another bench decides on his review plea. Bhushan also expressed his disappointment with SC by saying, "I am pained not because of the would-be sentencing, but because I am being grossly misunderstood." He added, "I believe that open criticism is necessary to safeguard the democracy and its values."
Bhushan admitted that he couldn't have kept quiet
The lawyer also said he couldn't wrap his head around the fact that SC concluded his tweets could "destabilize the pillar of Indian democracy." "I can only reiterate that these two tweets represented my bonafide beliefs, the expression of which must be permissible in any democracy," he added. Had I not spoken up, it would have qualified as a dereliction of duty, he added.
Bhushan underscored that he was not seeking mercy
"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. I do not ask for mercy. I do not appeal for magnanimity," he said.
Notably, SC gave Bhushan two days to reconsider his words
After Bhushan made his submissions, Justice Mishra told him to "reconsider" his statements, adding that he hasn't convicted anyone of contempt in his 24-year long career as a judge. Finally, Bhushan was given two days time to reconsider what he wrote. "There is a Lakshman Rekha (boundary) for everything. Why to cross it?" asked Justice Mishra, saying the matter was serious.