Over 1500 lawyers from across the country have come out in support of Prashant Bhushan and have written to the Supreme Court over the conviction of activist-lawyer Prashant Bhusan in a contempt case. The conviction has invited a lot of flak all over the country.
1500+ lawyers including many senior members of the bar have expressed their dismay and urged the apex court to take corrective steps to prevent the miscarriage of justice.
“Bar silenced under the threat of contempt will undermine the independence and ultimately the strength of the Supreme Court,” stated the lawyers. It was also stated that the silenced Bar cannot lead to a strong court.
Few of the signatories involve Sriram Panchu, Arvind Datar, Shyam Divan, Menaka Guru-Swamy, Raju Ramachandran, Biswajit Bhattacharya, Navroz Seervai, Janak Dwarkadas, Iqbal Chagla, Darius Khambata, Vrinda Grover, Mihir Desai, Kamini Jaiswal, and Karuna Nundy.
“This judgment does not restore the authority of the court in the eyes of the public. Rather, it will discourage lawyers from being outspoken. From the days of the supersession of judges and the events thereafter, it has been the Bar that has been the first to stand in defence of the independence of the judiciary,” said the statement.
“An independent judiciary does not mean that judges are immune from scrutiny and comment. It is the duty of lawyers to freely bring any shortcomings to the notice of bar, bench and the public at large. While some of us may have divergent views on the advisability and content of Mr. Prashant Bhushan’s two tweets, we are unanimously of the view that no contempt of court was intended or committed especially when contrasted with the normal standard that ‘Justice is not a cloistered virtue… She must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even though outspoken comments of ordinary men,” wrote the lawyers to SC.
In addition to seeking the abeyance of the judgment, the lawyers have urged the Supreme Court to conduct an open hearing after the pandemic by a larger bench in order to review the standards of criminal attempt.
“While Mr. Prashant Bhushan as a lawyer of good standing of the Supreme Court, may not be an ordinary man, his tweets do not say anything out of the ordinary, other than what is routinely expressed about the court’s working in recent years by many on public fora and on social media. Even some retired judges of the Supreme Court have expressed somewhat similar views,” further added the statement.
Supreme Court convicted Prashant Bhushan on August 14 in contempt of court case over his two tweets casting aspersions against the top court and CJI SA Bobde.