Contempt Power As Sledgehammer Kapil Sibal On Prashant Bhushan Case

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Kapil Sibal On Prashant Bhushan

Last week Prashant Bhushan was held guilty of contempt for tweets on Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and the Supreme Court.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal came out in defence of lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan on Saturday morning, tweeting that “contempt power (is) being used (by the courts) as a sledgehammer” and warning that history would judge the courts for “having let us down”.

Last week Mr Bhushan was held guilty of contempt for tweets on Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and the Supreme Court. Mr Bhushan, who said he had been “grossly misunderstood”, also said the tweets were an attempt to discharge his highest duty.

An unimpressed Supreme Court gave Mr Bhushan up to three days “to reconsider” his statement and sought an unconditional apology by August 24.

This morning Kapil Sibal, who is also a senior lawyer and has argued before the top court, tweeted: “Contempt power being used as a sledgehammer…”

“Why are Courts helpless when institutions that need to protect the constitution and the laws show “open contempt” for both? Larger issues are at stake… History will judge the Court for having let us down,” Mr Sibal wrote.

Kapil Sibal also tweeted on this matter on Independence Day, posting: “As we celebrate Independence Day, courts must never forget that their commitment to the cause of liberty and our constitutional values will be judged not by their words and homilies but by their actions in dealing with causes”.

Mr Sibal had appeared for Tehelka magazine in the Supreme Court.

Along with Prashant Bhushan, the magazine is also accused of contempt in a 2009 case. Mr Bhushan’s interview accusing some former Chief Justices of India of corruption had been published in the magazine.

After more than two hours of arguments in the Prashant Bhushan case the Supreme Court, on Thursday, declared “freedom of speech is not absolute to anyone” and that there were boundaries that had to be respected.

“There is no person on Earth who cannot commit a mistake. You may do hundreds good things but that doesn’t give you a license to do 10 crimes,” Justice Arun Mishra, one of the judges on the bench, said.

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