Supreme Court to pronounce judgment in Prashant Bhushan contempt case today at 11 am

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Prashant Bhushan contempt case
Prashant Bhushan contempt case

The Supreme Court will pronounce its judgment in the suo moto contempt case against Prashant Bhushan on Friday. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai, Krishna Murari will give the verdict at 11 am, Live Law reported.

The contempt proceedings were started against Bhushan last month after the senior lawyer had put out a tweet critical of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.

He had tweeted: “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! (sic)”

The tweet has now been removed by Twitter “in response to a legal demand.”

The court had noted that Bhushan’s tweet “brought administration of justice into disrepute” and were “capable of undermining the dignity and authority of SC and office of CJI”.

According to news agency PTI, the bench headed by Justice Mishra also observed that initially the contempt issue was placed before the administrative side of the apex court but it was directed to be listed on the judicial side.

Earlier in the day, the court had allowed former Union minister Arun Shourie, veteran journalist N Ram and Bhushan to withdraw their plea challenging the constitutional validity of a legal provision dealing with criminal contempt for “scandalizing the court”.

The three had moved court on 1 August in wake of the contempt case against Bhushan.

Their petition had challenged the validity of Section 2(1)(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 as being unconstitutional and incompatible with the basic features of the Constitution and is vague and manifestly arbitrary.

The provision defines what constituted criminal contempt and said that if by way of publication of words, the dignity of the courts is lowered and if they scandalize the courts then the offence of contempt of court is deemed to have been committed.

The petition alleged that the provision violated the freedom of speech and expression. The provision violates the right to free speech to the extent that it is not covered under the reasonable restrictions enlisted under Article 19(2) of the Constitution, it said.

The offence of ‘scandalising the court’ cannot be considered to be covered under the category of the contempt of court and under Article 19(2) of the Constitution which permitted reasonable restrictions on free speech, it said.

However, on Thursday, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who was representing the petitioners informed the bench that they want to withdraw the plea as several petitions on the same issue are pending before the apex court and they don’t want “this to be entangled” with them.

The bench allowed the petition to be withdrawn with liberty to the petitioners to approach the appropriate judicial forum, except the apex court.

During the brief hearing conducted through video-conferencing, Dhavan said that at this stage the petitioners want to withdraw the plea with liberty to approach the top court again, maybe after two months.

The petitioners had challenged the constitutional validity of a legal provision dealing with criminal contempt, saying it was violative of freedom of speech and right to equality.

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