The Supreme Court, on Friday, held advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty in a contempt of court case registered against him for two of his tweets on Chef Justice of India SA Bobde and the Supreme Court. A 3 bench of Justice headed by Arun Mishra, along with BR Gavai and Krishna Murari delivered the verdict. The Supreme Court will hear the arguments on the quantum of punishment on 20th August.
What is contempt of court?
As per the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, it can either be a civil contempt or a criminal one. Contempt means disobedience and civil contempt stands for the disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a court wilfully or a wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court. Whereas, criminal contempt means the publication of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which
(i) scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or
(ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
Mr Prashant Bhushan may be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine up to Rs 2,000, or with both. However, if the accused made an apology to the satisfaction of the court, he may be discharged or the punishment awarded may be remitted.
In his tweet, Mr Prashant said, “When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs”. His next tweet said, “CJI rides a 50 lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan, Nagpur, without a mask or helmet at a time when he keeps the SC in lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice!”
On 3rd August, in an affidavit, Bhushan said that he regrets only one part of the tweet and said that the criticism of Mr Bobde does not scandalise the court or its authority. He said that the posts were against the judges regarding their conduct in their capacity and they did not obstruct the administration of justice.
The Apex Court on 22nd July issued a notice to the lawyer after beginning the criminal contempt against him, saying that his tweets had brought the administration of justice in disrepute.
Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya, appearing for Twitter said that “Twitter Inc., California, USA is the correct description on which the tweets were made” by Bhushan and forced the court to replace Twitter India with it. He said that twitter cannot delete a tweet without the court’s order and twitter had nothing to defend it, it will act if the court directs them to.
Advocate Bhushan said that at the outset he admits that he didn’t notice that the bike was on a stand and therefore wearing a helmet was not required and regrets that part of the tweet. However, I stand by the remaining part of what I have stated in my tweet…” he added
The court has however removed the charges from Twitter of contempt for publishing Mr Prashant Bhushan’s tweets and said that they accept the explanation provided to them.
Image Credits:- The Wire