Supreme Court convicts Prashant Bhushan:
Offensive tweets of Prashant Bhushan:
Supreme Court today convicted Prashant Bhushan, the perpetual Public interest litigator for contempt of Court. As per the orders of Supreme Court Prashant Bhushan had tweeted as under:
“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!”(29th June 2020 at 11.37AM)
Another tweet was published in the Times of India which was made by Shri Prashant Bhushan on June 27, 2020, when he tweeted,
“When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how 3democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs.”
Damage Caused by Tweet:
Indian judiciary is not only one of pillars on which the Indian democracy stands but is the central pillar.The Indian Constitutional democracy stands on the bedrock of rule of law. The trust, faith and confidence of 102the citizens of the country in the judicial system is sine qua non for existence of rule of law. An attempt to shake the very foundation of constitutional democracy has to be dealt with an iron hand. The tweet has the effect of destabilising the very foundation of this important pillar of the Indian democracy. The tweet clearly tends to give an impression,that the Supreme Court, which is a highest constitutional court in the country, has in the last six years played a vital role in destruction of the Indian democracy. There is no manner of doubt,that the tweet tends to shake the public confidence in the institution of judiciary. We do not want to go into the truthfulness or otherwise of the first part of the tweet,inasmuch as we do not want to convert this proceeding into a platform for political debate. We are only concerned with the damage that is sought to be done to the institution of administration of justice. In our considered view, the said tweet undermines the dignity and authority of the institution of the Supreme Court of India and the CJI and directly affronts the majesty of law.
Role of Supreme Court:
The Indian Constitution has given a special role to the constitutional courts of this country. The Supreme Court is a protector of the fundamental rights of the citizens, as also is endowed with a duty to keep the other pillars of democracy i.e. the Executive and the Legislature,within the constitutional bounds. If an attack is made to shake the confidence that the public at large has in the institution of judiciary, such an attack has to be dealt with firmly. No doubt, that it may be better in many cases for the judiciary to adopt a magnanimously charitable attitude even when utterly uncharitable and unfair criticism of its operations is made out of bona fide concern for improvement. However, when there appears some scheme and design to bring about results which have the tendency of damaging the confidence in our judicial system and demoralize the Judges of the highest court by making malicious attacks, those interested in maintaining high standards of fearless, impartial and unbending justice will have to stand firmly.If such an attack is not dealt with, with requisite degree of firmness, it may affect the national honour and prestige in the comity of nations.
Fearless and impartial courts of justice are the bulwark of a healthy democracy and the confidence in them cannot be permitted to be impaired by malicious attacks upon them. As observed by Justice Krishna Iyer in the case of Re: S. Mulgaokar(supra), on which judgment, Shri Dave has strongly relied on, if the Court considers the attack on the judge or judges scurrilous, offensive, intimidatory or malicious beyond condonable limits, the strong arm of the law must, in the name of public interest and public justice, strike a blow on him who challenges the supremacy of the rule of law by fouling its source and stream.
The summary jurisdiction of this Court is required to be exercised not to vindicate the dignity and honour of the individual judge,who is personally attacked or scandalised, but to uphold the majesty of the law and of the administration of justice. The foundation of the judiciary is the trust and the confidence of the people in its ability to deliver fearless and impartial justice. When the foundation itself is sought to be shaken by acts which tend to create disaffection and disrespect for the authority of the court by creating distrust in its working, the edifice of the judicial system gets eroded.The scurrilous/malicious attacks by the alleged contemnor No.1 are not only against one or two judges but the entire Supreme Court in its functioning of the last six years. Such an attack which tends to create disaffection and disrespect for the authority of this Court cannot be ignored.
The tweets which are based on the distorted facts, in our considered view, amount to committing of ‘criminal contempt’.
In the result, we hold alleged contemnor No.1 –Mr. Prashant Bhushan guiltyof having committed criminal contempt of this Court.
Read the full judgement here:
Note: The sentence shall be pronounced on 20th August 2020.