‘Apologising would be contempt of my conscience and that of SC’: Prashant Bhushan refuses to apologise to SC

‘Today in these troubling times, the hopes of the people of India vest in this Court to ensure the rule of law and the Constitution and not an untrammelled rule of the executive,’ says his statement

Advocate Prashant Bhushan
Advocate Prashant Bhushan

NH Web Desk

Advocate Prashant Bhushan has filed a statement before the Supreme Court, reiterating that he will not be apologising for his tweets criticising the judiciary, over which he was held guilty of criminal contempt of Court on August 14, legal news website BarandBench.com has reported.

A supplementary statement filed today through Advocate Kamini Jaiswal states:

"My tweets represented this bonafide belief that I continue to hold. Public expression of these beliefs was I believe, in line with my higher obligations as a citizen and a loyal officer of this court. Therefore, an apology for expression of these beliefs, conditional or unconditional, would be insincere. An apology cannot be a mere incantation and any apology has to, as the court has itself put it, be sincerely made. This is especially so when I have made the statements bonafide and pleaded truths with full details, which have not been dealt with by the Court."

"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 that I hold in highest esteem," Prashant Bhushan said.

In his statement, Bhushan has stated that it was with deep regret that he read the Supreme Court's order of August 20, wherein it said that Bhushan is being given time to submit an unconditional apology, if he so desires.

In response, Bhushan has stated, “I have never stood on ceremony when it comes to offering an apology for any mistake or wrongdoing on my part. It has been a privilege for me to have served this institution and bring several important public interest causes before it. I live with the realization that I have received from this institution much more than I have had the opportunity to give it. I cannot but have the highest regard for the institution of the Supreme Court."

Bhushan adds that he believes the Supreme Court is the last bastion of hope for the protection of fundamental rights and the watchdog of Constitutional democracy itself. As such, he states, “Today in these troubling times, the hopes of the people of India vest in this Court to ensure the rule of law and the Constitution and not an untrammelled rule of the executive.”

In this backdrop, Bhushan asserts that there is a duty on court officers such as himself to speak up when there is a deviation from the Supreme Court's sterling record.

"Therefore I expressed myself in good faith, not to malign the Supreme Court or any particular Chief Justice, but to offer constructive criticism so that the court can arrest any drift away from its long-standing role as a guardian of the Constitution and custodian of peoples’ rights", Bhushan says

With these observations, Bhushan has now effectively intimated that he is standing by his earlier statement, which was submitted to the Court during its August 20 hearing.

On August 14, the Supreme Court had found Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt of Court for two tweets criticising the judiciary. However, the question of sentence is yet to be decided.

The Court had initially fixed August 20 as the day for determining the sentence to be imposed on Bhushan. However, the Court deferred the matter further to August 25 after the August 20 hearing, to give Bhushan another chance to tender an unconditional apology.

On the eve of the hearing, Bhushan had moved an application to defer the sentencing proceedings given that he intended to file a review plea challenging the August 14 verdict.

The Court initially said that it was not inclined to postpone the hearing, while assuring that the sentence would not be acted upon until the review plea - which is yet to be filed - is dealt with. However, it later agreed to fix a hearing for August 25, if Bhushan reconsiders his statement and tenders an "unconditional apology".

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