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Supreme Court Drops 2009 Contempt Case Against Prashant Bhushan, Tarun Tejpal

The case was pertained to a Tehalka magazine interview in which Bhushan alleged corruption in the judiciary.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 30 August, dropped the 2009 contempt case against Advocate Prashant Bhushan and former Tehelka magazine editor Tarun Tejpal.

A bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee, Surya Kant, and MM Sundresh closed the contempt proceedings in light of their apologies to the court.

"In view of the apology tendered by the contemnors, we do not deem it necessary to proceed with the contempt. The contempt proceedings are dropped," the bench said in the order.

The case against Bhushan and Tejpal was filed by senior advocate Harish Salve on 6 November 2009, in connection with an interview published in Tehelka magazine, in which Bhushan alleged corruption in the judiciary.

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The Case

The contempt of court case was filed in 2009 and got reviewed in 2020 when Bhushan was found guilty of criminal contempt of court in another case by the Supreme Court over some of his tweets from 2020.

A bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir, Cyriac Joseph, and HL Dattu issued notices to Bhushan and Tejpal on 19 January 2010.

Bhushan had issued a statement with regard to his Tehelka interview while hearing a case:

"In my interview to Tehelka in 2009, I have used the word corruption in a wide sense meaning lack of propriety. I did not mean only financial corruption or deriving any pecuniary advantage. If what I have said caused hurt to any of them or to their families in any way, I regret the same. I unreservedly state that I support the institution of the judiciary and especially the Supreme Court of which I am a part, and had no intention to lower the prestige of the judiciary in which I have complete faith. I regret if my interview was misunderstood as doing so, that is, lower the reputation of the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, which could never have been my intention at all."
Prashant Bhushan
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"Allegation of corruption per se cannot be contempt because the same pertains to criticism of a judge for a biased dispensation of justice and would in all cases require further investigation before such allegations are brushed aside at the threshold," Bhushan explained to the court in 2020. He had said that truth was a defence under Section 13(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971.

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