New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his tweets against the judiciary.
Citing the tweets, the apex court said it has the tendency to shake the confidence of the public at large in the institution of the judiciary and the institution of the Chief Justice and undermine the dignity and authority of the administration of justice.
A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari said the statement that the Chief Justice has kept the Supreme Court in lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental rights to access justice is “patently false”.
The bench added that it may not be out of place to mention that Bhushan has himself appeared on various occasions in a number of matters through video conferencing.
“In this premise, making such wild allegations thereby giving an impression, that the CJI is enjoying riding an expensive bike, while he keeps the SC in lockdown mode and thereby denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice, is undoubtedly false, malicious and scandalous,” said the top court.
“In any case, the statement, that the Supreme Court is in lockdown is factually incorrect even to the knowledge of the alleged contemnor No.1 (Prashant Bhushan),” said the bench.
“We are unable to accept the contention of the alleged contemnor No.1 (Bhushan), that the said statement was a bona fide criticism made by him on account of his anguish of non-functioning of the courts physically,” said the top court declining to accept Bhushan’s defence.
The bench said Bhushan has made a “scandalous and malicious statement” having himself availed the right of an access to justice during the lockdown period, not only as a lawyer but also as a litigant.
The top court discharged Twitter in the contempt case.
“Insofar as the alleged contemnor No.2 (Twitter) is concerned, we accept the explanation given by it, that it is only an intermediary and that it does not have any control on what the users post on the platform. It has also shown bona fides immediately after the cognisance was taken by this court as it has suspended both the tweets,” said the top court.
The Supreme Court initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against Bhushan for allegedly making derogatory comments against the top court on Twitter. The suo motu contempt proceedings have been initiated against Bhushan for publishing two tweets June 27 and June 29.