Prashant Bhushan to file review plea against SC order; agrees to pay one rupee fine


New Delhi. 31st August. Supreme Court of India on Monday ordered advocate and noted social activist Prashant Bhushan to pay a fine of 1 rupee after his conviction criminal contempt case that sparked a debate on freedom of speech and the independence of the judiciary. Advocate Prashant Bhushan has said after the judgement that he would respectfully pay Rupee one fine imposed by the Supreme Court in the contempt case for his tweets, but also indicated he would file a review plea against the order. 

Bhushan could have faced a jail term of three months. The judges said if he fails to pay the 1 rupee fine by September 15, he will be jailed for three months and debarred from practising law for three years.

Soon after the ruling, Mr Bhushan had tweeted: “My lawyer and senior colleague Rajiv Dhavan contributed 1 Re immediately after the contempt judgement today which I gratefully accepted.” He also said it was “heartening to see this case has become a watershed moment for freedom of speech”.

Prashant Bhushan, 63, was found guilty in August of criminal contempt for posting two tweets in which he criticised the Supreme Court’s chief justice and said the courts had played a role in “how democracy has been destroyed in India” since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014.

A three-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari handed down the punishment to Bhushan for two tweets for which he was found guilty of contempt of court.

Prashant Bhushan, photographed holding up a Re 1 coin, announced at a press conference: “I propose to submit to the order and respectfully pay the fine.”

image – twitter prashant bhushan

He said he had always believed the Supreme Court is the “last bastion of hope for the weak and oppressed” and that he never intended to hurt the judiciary, but wanted to express his anguish on a “deviation from its record”.

The Supreme Court, which had asked for an unconditional apology from the lawyer, noted, “We gave several opportunities and encouragement to (Prashant Bhushan) to express regret. He not only gave wide publicity to the second statement but also gave various interviews to press.”

The Court said it was showing magnanimity; instead of imposing a severe punishment.

The bench said that from the very beginning it had wanted to put the matter to rest. Directly and indirectly, attempts were made to persuade Bhushan to end the matter by tendering an apology and save the grace of the institution as well as the individual, who is also an officer of the Court.

However, for the reasons best known to Bhushan, he has neither shown regret in spite of our persuasion or the advice of the learned Attorney General. Thus, we have to consider imposing an appropriate sentence upon him”, the court said. It was the opinion of the court that the act committed by Bhushan was a very serious one. It said Bhushan had attempted to denigrate the reputation of the institution of the administration of justice of which he himself was a part, it said.

“At the cost of repetition, we have to state that the faith of the citizens of the country in the institution of justice is the foundation of the rule of law which is an essential factor in a democratic set up”, the Court said. The court further said Bhushan had not even heeded the suggestion of the Attorney General to express regret and withdraw the allegation made in the affidavit in reply.


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