Prashant Bhushan questions SC for being a ‘mute spectator’ throughout Delhi riots

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3

Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan has defended his controversial statements that led to the Supreme Court initiating contempt of courtroom proceedings in opposition to him, saying energy of contempt can’t be used to “stifle bona fide criticism from citizens”.

A Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had on July 22 issued discover to Bhushan and Twitter for his tweets allegedly scandalising the judiciary. Two days later, it had additionally determined to renew listening to in one other contempt of courtroom case in opposition to pending since 2009. The two circumstances are listed for listening to on August four and 5.

In an affidavit filed in response to the highest courtroom’s contempt discover, Bhushan questioned the highest courtroom for being a “mute spectator” through the current Delhi riots.

“When the Delhi riots were unleashed, with daily videos emerging of mobs tearing down and burning mosques, the police force systematically destroying public CCTVs, taking an active part in stone-throwing, massive firing and deaths, blockades of a hospital to prevent assistance to the severely wounded Muslims, etc., the Supreme Court remained a mute spectator while Delhi burnt,” Bhushan submitted.

He stood by each his tweets cited by the courtroom and refused to tender an apology for his feedback whilst he expressed remorse for a factual mistake.

“I admit that I did not notice that the bike was on a stand and therefore wearing a helmet was not required. I therefore regret that part of my tweet. However, I stand by the remaining part of what I have stated in my tweet,” Bhushan acknowledged in his affidavit.

Bhushan had on June 29 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!”

In one other tweet, he had on June 27, mentioned, “When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy 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.”

He cited public statements of Supreme Court choose DY Chandrachud and former SC judges Deepak Gupta and Kurian Joseph on free speech and dissent to justify his important remarks.

Contending that the Supreme Court is an establishment consisting of 31 Judges and its personal long-standing and enduring traditions and practices, he mentioned it can’t be equated with a Chief Justice, or perhaps a succession of 4 CJIs.

“To bona fide critique the actions of a CJI, or a succession of CJIs, cannot and does not scandalise the court, nor does it lower the authority of the court. To assume or suggest that ‘the CJI is the SC, and the SC is the CJI’ is to undermine the institution of the Supreme Court of India,” Bhushan submitted.

“The energy of contempt underneath Article 129 is to be utilised to assist in administration of justice and to not shut out voices that search accountability from the Court for its errors of omissions and commissions which have been detailed hereinafter.

“To curb constructive criticism from persons of knowledge and standing is not a ‘reasonable restriction’. Preventing citizens from demanding accountability and reforms and advocating for the same by generating public opinion is not a ‘reasonable restriction’.”

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