Bhushan strikes SC; seeks proper to enchantment in contempt conviction, listening to by bigger bench

New Delhi, September 12

Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan, convicted and awarded Re 1 high quality for his contemptuous tweets towards the judiciary, on Saturday moved the Supreme Court looking for the precise of enchantment towards convictions in unique felony contempt instances to be heard by a bigger and a special bench.

Bhushan on August 31 was directed to deposit the high quality with the Supreme Court registry by September 15 and failure to conform would entail a three-month jail time period and debarment from legislation follow for 3 years.

In a contemporary plea filed by means of lawyer Kamini Jaiswal, he has sought a declaration {that a} “person convicted for criminal contempt by this court, including the petitioner herein, would have a right to an intra-court appeal to be heard by a larger and different bench”.

Bhushan, within the plea, advised procedural modifications to scale back the possibilities of “arbitrary, vengeful and high-handed decisions” in felony contempt instances saying that in such instances the highest courtroom is the aggrieved get together, the “prosecutor, the witness and the judge” and therefore they increase worry of inherent bias.

The petition stated the precise of enchantment is a basic proper assured beneath the Constitution and can also be assured beneath worldwide legislation and this may act as a “vital safeguard against wrongful conviction and would truly enable the provision of truth as a defence”.

The plea, to which the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Registrar of the apex courtroom have been made events, has additionally sought a course for framing guidelines and tips “providing for intra-court appeal against conviction in original criminal contempt cases”.

Under the current statutory scheme, an individual convicted for the felony contempt has the precise to file overview petition towards the judgement and that plea is set in chambers by the bench normally with out listening to the contemnor.

Bhushan stated his petition has been filed for the enforcement of basic rights assured beneath Articles 14 (proper to equality), 19 (Freedom of speech and expression) and 21 (proper to life) of the Constitution.

“That the existing Act and Rules, do not bar or prohibit the prayers as sought by the Petitioner. In fact, it is in the spirit of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 to lay down such a procedure. This Hon’ble Court has in the past framed special rules to deal with cases concerning death penalty and has also devised special remedy in the nature of ‘curative petition’ against a final judgment of the Supreme Court on certain limited grounds,” it stated.

The plea stated it has been filed as a way to convey vital procedural safeguards when the highest courtroom considers instances of felony contempt in unique proceedings that’s these proceedings the place it doesn’t act as an appellate courtroom.

“In such instances, contemplating the truth that there may be inherent unavoidable battle of curiosity concerned, and the truth that liberty of the alleged contemnor is at stake, it’s of utmost significance that sure primary safeguards are designed which would cut back (although not obviate) possibilities of arbitrary, vengeful and excessive handed choices.

“It is extremely important to minimise such decisions since they not only cause great injustice to the alleged contemnor, but also bring disrepute to the court itself and are likely to be harshly judged by legal historians,” it stated.

That the precise to enchantment towards conviction in unique felony instances is a substantive proper beneath Article 21 and flows from ideas of pure justice. The absence of such a proper thus violates proper to life, it stated.

“Right of Appeal is an absolute right according to Article 14(5) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which India has ratified and is therefore binding upon the Indian State. Under ICCPR, first appeal is a right even where trial is by the highest court and review is not a substitute for an appeal,” it stated.

Contempt proceedings are one by which the aggrieved get together is the Supreme Court itself which acts because the “prosecutor, the witness and the judge” and therefore raises the worry of inherent bias, it stated.

“As a judge the power of the Supreme Court to convict and sentence the accused is unlimited and arbitrary… No one can be at once a suitor and a judge. Thus, there is a need for an intra-court appeal,” it stated.

It stated that the contempt proceedings are “quasi-criminal in nature, akin to a criminal trial” and thus, related procedural safeguards should apply as in felony trials.

Besides the contempt case lodged for his tweets, Bhushan is dealing with one other contempt case of 2009.

The apex courtroom had in November 2009 issued contempt notices to Bhushan and Tarun Tejpal for allegedly casting aspersions on some sitting and former high courtroom judges in an interview to information journal ‘Tehelka’. Tejpal was the editor of the journal.

On September 10, the highest courtroom accepted the plea of Bhushan to hunt help of Attorney General Okay Okay Venugopal within the case. — PTI

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