Allegations of corruption per se can’t be contempt: Prashant Bhushan

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 16

Ahead of the essential August 17 listening to in an 11-year-old prison contempt case in opposition to him, activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan has contended earlier than the Supreme Court that allegations of corruption per se can’t be per se contempt of courtroom.

In a written submission filed within the prime courtroom, Bhushan—who has already been held responsible of contempt of courtroom in one other case regarding his controversial tweets in opposition to CJI SA Bobde—made it clear that he would invoke fact as his defence.

“Allegations of corruption cannot be per se contempt because truth is a defence to contempt proceedings. Given that the defence/ justification of truth is a statutory right (approved by the Supreme Court) available to an alleged contemnor, the court cannot hold the alleged contemnor guilty of contempt ‘per se’ in case the contemnor invokes the said defence/truth,” Bhushan contended.

The Supreme Court had on August 10 determined to go forward with prison contempt proceedings Bhushan because it refused to simply accept his ‘regret’ in connection together with his 2009 assertion allegedly scandalising the judiciary.

“Before reaching to any finding whether the statement made as to ‘corruption’ would per se amount to contempt of court, the matter is required to be heard,” a three-judge Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had stated in a quick order.

The prime courtroom had on Friday held him responsible of contempt of courtroom, saying public confidence in courts can’t be allowed to be impaired by malicious assaults on them.

A 3-judge Bench led by Justice Mishra will hear arguments on sentence on August 20.

In reference to the 2009 instances slated for listening to on August 17, Bhushan contended that corruption in public life has a large and expansive definition. 

“Corruption is not restricted to pecuniary gratification alone but various instruments identify its particular forms such as bribery, embezzlement, theft, fraud, extortion, abuse of discretion, favouritism, nepotism, clientelism, conduct creating or exploiting conflicting  interests,” he submitted.

“The factum of corruption in the judiciary has been stated in Parliamentary Committee reports on Prevention of Corruption, has been commented upon by former judges of this Hon’ble Court, has been taken note of in various judgements of this Hon’ble court and high courts in the country and courts in foreign jurisdictions and commented upon by constitutional experts,” he stated.

“Allegations of corruption and their investigation turn out to be important in impeachment proceedings underneath the Constitution and the Judges Inquiry Act. Therefore the allegation of corruption per se can’t be contempt, he submitted.

But Bhushan had refused to tender an apology and issued a press release expressing remorse.

“In my interview to Tehelka in 2009 I have used the word corruption in a wide sense meaning lack of propriety. I did not mean only financial corruption or deriving any pecuniary advantage. If what I have said caused hurt to any of them or to their families in any way, I regret the same,” he had stated.

“I unreservedly state that I support the institution of the judiciary and especially the Supreme Court of which I am a part, and had no intention to lower the prestige of the judiciary in which I have complete faith. I regret if my interview was misunderstood as doing so, that is, lower the reputation of the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, which could never have been my intention at all,” his assertion additional learn.

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