While resuming the suo moto criminal contempt proceedings against lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court considered his supplementary statement even more derogatory than his tweets. The court had given him three days time window to retract his tweets or apologize on August 20.
Attorney General KK Venugopal has requested the court to show statesmanship and not use its power of contempt against the lawyer-activist. “Let him go with a warning to tell him ‘please don’t repeat this in future,” said AG Venugopal.
Supreme Court has taken a short break of 30 minutes and asked him to remove the charges against him by withdrawing the 100-page supplementary statement filed by him on Monday. Prashant Bhushan has refused to apologize and stated, “The hopes of the people of India vest in this Court to ensure the rule of law and the Constitution and not an untrammeled rule of the executive.”
To which Justice Arun Mishra asked Venugopal, “Tell us what is to be done. We expected a different statement.”
“These statements would only be to tell the Court that you should look at the unclear and reform yourself, “said Venugopal. He also mentioned that several sitting and retired judges had commented about the corruption in the Indian judiciary.
“But he doesn’t think whatever he did was wrong. He did not submit an apology… People make mistakes, sometimes even in bona fide mistakes are made. But he does not think he did anything wrong. What to do when someone does not think they did something wrong?” responded Justice Arun Mishra to AG Venugopal’s suggestion.
“I myself wanted to file a contempt against Prashant Bhushan when two CBI officers were fighting, and he said I fabricated documents. But after he expressed regret, I withdrew. Let the democracy follow in this case when he has exercised his free speech,” said Venugopal. He further requested the court by saying that it would be tremendously appreciated if the court would leave it here and took a compassionate view.
“If he believes he has done no wrong, what’s the purpose of this warning. He has made several disparaging remarks against this institution, judges of this court,” said Justice Arun Mishra.
On the request made by Venugopal to not to consider his response, Justice Mishra replied, “How can we not? 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.”
When asked to show the statesmanship by AG Venugopal, the Supreme Court bench stated, “Please read his reply. See what he has said, Supreme Court has collapsed. Isn’t that objectionable?”
Mentioning another point of the Prashant Bhushan’s statement, Justice Arun Mishra asked Venugopal, “His reply says this court is becoming executive-minded. What do you say to this? How do we not consider all this? Prioritisation of cases has also been adversely commented upon. Ayodhya case has been commented upon. Which judge is left out, sitting or retired?”
Court has deferred the hearing of the 2009 contempt case against Prashant Bhushan to September 10 before another bench. Top Court has also requested CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde to constitute an appropriate bench to hear the matter and also decide upon various ambiguous questions including whether one can go public with allegations of corruption against judges.