New Delhi: All eyes are set on the Supreme Court as it is expected to pronounce its verdict on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, held guilty of contempt for his tweets against the judiciary and Chief Justice of India SA Bobde. Also Read - Sudarshan TV Row: 'Free Speech, Not Hatred,' Supreme Court Says Media Self-regulation System Toothless
On August 14, the top court had held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his derogatory tweets. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had observed that for how long the system would suffer this. The bench which also comprises Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari noted that judges are condemned and their families are humiliated. “They cannot even speak”, said the 3-judge bench. Also Read - 2021 Haridwar Kumbh: In a First, Number of Pilgrims to Be Restricted; Entry Passes to Be Issued
Notably, Bhushan faces simple imprisonment of up to six months or with a fine of up to Rs 2,000 or with both as punishment. Also Read - Regulate Digital Media First: Centre Tells SC in Affidavit Filed in Response to Pleas Against Sudarshan TV
Earlier on August 24, Bhushan had refused to tender an unconditional apology for the tweets, saying what he expressed represented his bona fide belief which he continued to hold. “An insincere apology would amount to the contempt of my conscience and of an institution”, Bhushan had asserted in his supplementary statement filed in the suo motu (on its own) contempt case against him by the top court.
Rajeev Dhavan, representing Bhushan, had suggested that the SC to recall the August 14 verdict convicting him for contempt of court and not impose any sentence and urged it to not only close the case but also to bring an end to the controversy. Attorney General K K Venugopal requested the court to forgive Bhushan with a message that he should not repeat this act.
Bhushan is under the scanner for two of his tweets. The first one posted on June 27 alleged that the last four Chief Justices had played a role in the “destruction of democracy” during undeclared “emergency” for the last six years. Another tweet on June 29 alleged that the “present Chief Justice” rode a bike in Nagpur “while keeping the apex court in lockdown and denying citizens their right to access to justice”.