SC Files Suo Motu Contempt Case Against Prashant Bhushan, Twitter
In addition to this case, the same bench is slated to hear another contempt case against Prashant Bhushan on Friday.
The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, 21 July, initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against advocate Prashant Bhushan over his alleged derogatory tweets against the judiciary. The apex court also initiated contempt proceedings against Twitter India for the same.
Bhushan told The Quint that he is not sure which tweet this case was about. He did not wish to comment further at this time on the case. The case was filed on 9 July, and therefore, evidently relates to tweets on or from before that date.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari initiated the suo motu proceedings. By “suo motu” it is meant that the judges themselves decided to take up the case.
While it is unclear which tweet of Bhushan's has invited the new contempt case, an advocate called Anuj Saxena is claiming that the case may have something to do with a petition he had filed on behalf of a Madhya Pradesh advocate Mahek Maheswari. In that petition, he had raised an objection to the following tweet by Bhushan on 27 June:
However, since the Supreme Court has registered the case suo motu, this claim appears to have little merit at this time, and can only be clarified at the hearing on Wednesday.
The case is listed as item 16 in the court of Justice Arun Mishra, which will begin hearing cases at 11 am.
Coinciding Contempt Cases
While the hearing for the aforementioned case against Bhushan and Twitter India is listed for Wednesday, the same bench is also slated to hear another old contempt case against Bhushan on 24 July.
The court, however, had not initiated the proceedings for the case being heard on Friday by themselves. It was filed in 2009 on a complaint by senior advocate Harish Salve, who was back then appearing as an amicus curiae in a PIL before the SC.
Salve informed the court of an interview given by Bhushan to Tehelka. In the interview, Bhushan had made allegations of corruption against judges of the apex court.
A Supreme Court order from the time describes the allegations as follows:
“The learned Amicus Curiae drew the attention of the Court to certain statements which had been made by the Respondent No.1 in an interview given to Ms. Shoma Chaudhury, wherein various statements were made alleging corruption in the judiciary and, in particular, the higher judiciary, without any material in support thereof. In the interview he went on to say that although he did not have any proof for his allegations, half of the last 16 Chief Justices were corrupt. He also made a serious imputation against the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India, Justice SH Kapadia, as His Lordship then was, alleging misdemeanor with regard to the hearing of a matter involving a company known as Sterlite, in which Justice Kapadia had certain shares, deliberately omitting to mention that the said fact had been made known to the counsel appearing in the matter, who had categorically stated that they had no objection whatsoever to the matter being heard by His Lordship.”
Bhushan, represented by famous lawyer Ram Jethmalani at that time, had tried to object to the maintainability of the case, saying his statements did not amount to contempt of court. The apex court had rejected these arguments and said the contempt case should proceed. However, it has not been listed for substantive arguments since 2010.
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