Prashant Bhushan's response even more derogatory, says SC; reserves order
In the contempt case against activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that his response to the top court was even more derogatory than the original comments. Yesterday, as Bhushan's window to reconsider his comments on CJI SA Bobde and SC ended, he refused to apologize saying that retracting his statements now would amount to "contempt of conscience." Here's what happened.
Background: Why is Bhushan receiving ire from SC?
Bhushan invited SC's criticism after he posted two tweets. Tweeting 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 would be unkind to them for compromising the judiciary's values. Holding him guilty of contempt, SC asked him to reconsider his words.
SC implored Bhushan to think tweets through, he remained defiant
In the last hearing, Justice Arun Mishra, a part of the three-judge bench, told Bhushan to think about his allegations, adding that he never held anyone guilty of contempt in his 24-year-long career. However, Bhushan told the apex court his views haven't changed, and rendering an apology would be insincere. He also said he was ready for any punishment.
Apology would amount to contempt of my conscience: Bhushan
"If I retract a statement before this court that I otherwise believe to be true, offer an insincere apology, that in my eyes would amount to the contempt of my conscience and of an institution I hold in the highest esteem," he told SC yesterday.
Issue warning, close case: Centre's top lawyer to SC
Today, during the hearing, the Centre's top lawyer KK Venugopal urged the bench, also including Justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, to issue a warning to Bhushan and not carry on with the contempt proceedings. "He should withdraw the allegations and the court should drop the proceedings after warning him not to repeat this," he said, telling the bench that Bhushan should be forgiven.
Justice Mishra asked what to do if Bhushan remains unapologetic
On Venugopal's suggestion, the bench wondered what it is supposed to do since Bhushan hasn't expressed regret. "If he believes he has done no wrong, what's the purpose of this warning," Justice Mishra said, adding that Bhushan "gave color" to a simple case about his tweets. "He has made several disparaging remarks against this institution, judges of this court," he said.
Bench said Bhushan's response was more derogatory
When Venugopal pleaded the bench to overlook Bhushan's response, Justice Mishra said, "Everyone is criticizing us that we haven't considered his response which according to us is even more derogatory. Now if we remove it, we will be blamed we deleted this on our own."
After long hearing, Justice Mishra asked: What's wrong in apologizing?
Post the arguments, the court reserved the order on his sentencing; but not before Justice Mishra made an impassioned appeal to Bhushan. Reminding of his impending retirement, Justice Mishra asked whether it would be fine if others started attacking him. "If you are hurting someone, then what is wrong in apologizing. For how long the system will suffer all this," Justice Mishra questioned.Share this timeline