The Supreme Court on Thursday gave lawyer Prashant Bhushan two-three days to “reconsider his statement” after he refused to apologise for his tweets against the judiciary.
Bhushan told the bench that he would consult his lawyers and think over the apex court’s suggestion.
Bhushan was held guilty of criminal contempt for his tweets on August 14.
The bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also rejected Bhushan’s submissions that the arguments on quantum of sentence in the contempt proceedings be heard by another top court bench.
The bench said that it was not inclined to entertain the application filed by Bhushan on Wednesday for deferment of hearing on the quantum of sentence.
The case is likely to be heard again on Monday, reported to India Today.
Attorney General KK Venugopal urged the court not to award any punishment to Bhushan in the contempt case. The top court, however, said that it cannot consider the request of the Attorney General till Bhushan reconsiders his earlier stand of not apologising for his tweets, according to PTI.
During the hearing, Bhushan said, “I believe that open criticism of any institution is necessary in any democracy to safeguard the constitutional order.”
“My tweets were nothing but a small attempt to discharge what I considered to be my highest duty at this juncture in the history of our republic,” he added.
He said he did not tweet “in a fit of absence mindedness”. “It would be insincere and contemptuous on my part to offer an apology for the tweets that expressed what was and continues to be my bonafide belief.”
Here’s the full statement:
CONTEMPT OF COURT CASE:
Supreme Court today is scheduled to hear arguments on sentencing in relation to Advocate Prashant Bhushan’s conviction for contempt of court.#SupremeCourt #ContemptOfCourt@pbhushan1 pic.twitter.com/wCggPD7Gbg
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) August 20, 2020
In his reply affidavit, filed on 2 August, Bhushan had said that the court notice to him was based on two tweets — one posted on 27 June and the other on 29 June. He said that the 29 June tweet regarding the CJI riding a motorcycle was “made primarily to underline my anguish at the non physical functioning of the Supreme Court for the last more than three months, as a result of which fundamental rights of citizens, such as those in detention, those destitute and poor, and others facing serious and urgent grievances were not being addressed or taken up for redressal.”
The 27 June tweet, he said, “is my bonafide opinion about the state of affairs in the country in the past six years and the role of the Supreme Court and in particular the role of the last 4 CJIs.”
The top court had on 14 August held Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for his two tweets against the judiciary.
After the 14 August order, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde told HuffPost India’s Akshay Deshmane that the judgment will discourage lawyers from being outspoken and this cannot lead to a strong court.
Senior Supreme Court advocate Indira Jaising told HuffPost India’s Betwa Sharma that the top court’s verdict holding lawyer Bhushan in contempt of court was “bad news for free speech”.