Case against Bhushan ill-advised, says rights body; appeals for withdrawal of case

It is difficult to comprehend obstruction caused by his comments in the process of justice, said Janhastakshep, a campaign against fascist ideologies

Advocate Prashant Bhushan (social media)
Advocate Prashant Bhushan (social media)
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NH Web Desk

The contempt case against lawyer Prashant Bhushan is ill advised in the development of a democracy and it has been well-established that the scope of initiating a contempt of court case emanates from physically or violently obstructing the judicial process in the court, stated Janhastakshep, a campaign against fascist ideologies.

Janhastakshep appealed to the Supreme Court to withdraw the suo moto contempt proceedings against Prashant Bhushan keeping in mind right to dissent and freedom of expression.

The contempt case against lawyer Prashant Bhushan is ill advised in the development of a democracy and it has been well-established that the scope of initiating a contempt of court case emanates from physically or violently obstructing the judicial process in the court, stated Janhastakshep, a campaign against fascist ideologies.

Janhastakshep appealed to the Supreme Court to withdraw the suo moto contempt proceedings against Prashant Bhushan keeping in mind right to dissent and freedom of expression.

The Supreme Court bench of Justices ArunMishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari issued a notice for contempt of court to activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan for two comments he posted on Twitter.

On June 27, Bhushan had wondered what future historians would say about the Supreme Court’s role in the last six years – especially during the terms of last four Chief Justices of India – in the destruction of democracy in contemporary India. On June 29, Bhushanposted a picture of CJI SA Bobde sitting on a Rs 50 lakh Harley Davidson owned by a BJP leader in Nagpur. He had commented, “CJI rides a 50 Lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice!”

However, these two statements cannot make for contempt of court, asserts Janhastakshep. The bench, it seems, has arrived at a prime-facie conclusion that the said Twitter comments constitute a contempt against judicial process and undermine the dignity and the authority of the Supreme Court, particularly of the CJI in the eyes of the people, said Dr Ish Mishra, Janhastakshep convenor.

There is enough scope of disagreement with or critique of Bhushan’s comments within democratic domain, but it is difficult to comprehend the obstruction caused by these comments in the process of justice, explained Mishra.

Prashant Bhushan’s comment on the CJI is in no way related to the judicial process or the judicial conduct. The role of Supreme Court and some former CJIs in the deterioration of democracy in India is of general nature and such views have been expressed by many in the public discourse, including former SC judges.

“The Supreme Court should keep in mind the proverb ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant’. It would be pertinent to remember Justice Krishna Iyer’s comment, ‘The best answer to abuse of judges is not frequent or ferocious contempt-sentencing, but fine performance,’” underscored Mishra.

It must be remembered here that the same Supreme Court chose to remain a mute spectator when right-wing forces encouraged by the current dispensation in power flouted its ruling on Sabarimala temple issue in Kerala. Then, the Union Home Minister Amit Shah had even questioned the wisdom of the court in passing judgements which are not implementable.

Janhastakshep has also demanded an appropriate amendment of the Contempt of Court Act of 1971.

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