Prashant Bhushan fined Re 1 in contempt case by Supreme Court

Prashant Bhushan (Lawyer)
Prashant Bhushan (Lawyer)

NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Monday imposed a fine of Re 1 on activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan for criminal contempt of court for his tweets against the apex court and Chief Justice of India (CJI), SA Bobde.

A three-judge bench said that if Bhushan fails to deposit the amount by September 15, he will have to undergo simple imprisonment for three months and will be barred from practising for three years.

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The court had on August 14 held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt of court and stated that the allegations levelled in the tweets against the court and CJI are malicious in nature and have the tendency to scandalise the court.

Bhushan’s tweets were based on distorted facts and have the effect of destabilising the foundation of the judiciary, the court had added.

Though the court gave him time to “think over”, Bhushan maintained that he will not apologise and in a statement on August 24 said that the views expressed by him through his tweets represented his bona fide (good faith) beliefs and, therefore, an apology for expressing such beliefs would be insincere.

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“An apology cannot be a mere incantation and any apology has to be sincerely made. If I retract a statement before this court that I otherwise believe to be true or offer an insincere apology, that in my eyes would amount to the contempt of my conscience and of an institution (Supreme Court ) that I hold in highest esteem,” he said.

However, Attorney General KK Venugopal had urged the court to not punish Bhushan and let him off with a warning but the court refused to do so unless he tendered an apology.

Bhushan had on June 27 tweeted that historians will mark the role of the Supreme Court in contributing to what he considered as destruction of democracy.

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“When historians in the future look back at the last six years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the SC in this destruction, and more particularly the role of the last four CJIs”, he wrote on Twitter.

In another tweet on June 29, the lawyer had posted a photo of CJI Bobde sitting on a Harley Davidson motorcycle with the text alongside reading: “The CJI rides a Rs 50-lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] leader at Raj Bhavan, Nagpur, without wearing a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC on lockdown mode, denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice!”

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