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‘Principled, Constructive’: N Ram Applauds Bhushan Statement to SC

Veteran journalist explains why Bhushan has set an inspiring example when it comes to standing for one’s principles.

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Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

Veteran journalist N Ram says that “everyone knew” that public interest lawyer Prashant Bhushan would not apologise to the Supreme Court for his tweets about the judiciary, for which the court had found him guilty of criminal contempt.

However, in his new statement to the court, Ram believes that Bhushan has gone much further than just refusing to apologise, and has set an example to be admired.

“I would characterise the supplementary statement as both principled and constructive, because there is a reiteration of his respect for the Supreme Court as an institution,” he says.

In comments to The Quint, the director of The Hindu Publishing Group, who has a long tradition of speaking truth to power – whether about Bofors or Rafale – has applauded Bhushan for this response, and hopes that “wisdom will prevail and the attitude of the Supreme Court will mellow” when it comes to deciding his sentence.

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Ram is firmly of the opinion that the Supreme Court’s taking up of this contempt case and its decision to hold Bhushan guilty is “completely wrong”.

He suggests that this has been reflected by what Attorney General KK Venugopal said when allowed to briefly speak in the sentencing hearing for the case on 20 August, and the AG’s subsequent decision to refuse permission to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against Swara Bhasker.

“I’ve known the Attorney General for India Mr KK Venugopal for half a century and admire him. And it is clear that he doesn’t want the Supreme Court to be involved in a series of contempt of court actions which will only lower the dignity of the court.”
N Ram to The Quint
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The journalist, who had filed a petition along with Bhushan to challenge the constitutionality of provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act which deal with the issues in the lawyer’s case, hopes that the court will take the “constructive spirit” of Bhushan’s statement into consideration when deciding sentencing.

At the end of the day, however, Ram believes that this case will actually be a “boost to the cause of free speech” thanks to the awareness it has created about the concept of contempt.

He notes that the case highlights the danger of the judiciary becoming intolerant of criticism, and the fact that in contempt cases, the courts are essentially “judges in your own cause”. The fact that there’s no appeal when the Supreme Court is concerned is also something of which there is now an increase in awareness.

In conclusion, he thinks the “inspiring example” set by Bhushan in this case will also be a reason why this its legacy will actually be a boost freedom of speech.

“He’s not out to just fight regardless, just to create noise or sensationalise the issue. He’s been very very constructive and at the same time, principled. Prashant Bhushan doesn’t need any sympathy, Prashant Bhushan needs support, because he’s taken up the right cause.”
N Ram to The Quint

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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