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Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt | Opposition questions conviction

Prashant Bhushan. File

Prashant Bhushan. File  

Opposition parties questioned the alacrity with which the Supreme Court had convicted senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan for contempt of court while cases against the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and habeas corpus petitions filed for political leaders in Kashmir have been pending for more than a year.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury in a series of tweets said that whether one agrees with the precise formulation of Mr. Bhushan’s tweets or not — he was convicted for his tweets — the Supreme Court judgment convicting him of contempt is “alarming”.

“It brings into the ambit of Contempt, bona-fide criticism of the role played by the Supreme Court as a Constitutional authority. It also brings within its scope, genuine criticism of its present day functioning and approach. Hitherto, such statements were protected speech under Article 19 (1)(a) under the Constitution and were not considered contemptuous,” he said, adding that the judgment would prevent open and free discussion on the role of the Supreme Court in India’s democracy. This, he said, weakens India’s Constitutional democracy.

‘Revisit contempt laws’

Dissent and having a difference of opinion is part of a democracy, CPI general secretary D. Raja said, calling for revisiting the contempt laws. “When four Supreme Court judges held a press conference questioning the working of the apex court, was that also contempt? When there were large-scale protests after a Supreme Court judgment diluting the reservation laws, was that contempt?” he questioned.

The Hindu Explains | What is contempt of court?

Nationalist Congress Party leader and a senior lawyer Majeed Memon tweeted: “Contempt of Courts Act 1971 is in place to prevent the courts and judges from being scandalised. Supreme Court is supreme because it is the highest and final court, not because it is infallible or does not err.”

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra through a series of tweets directed, “If you have the law and truth behind you why is your skin so thin?” The MP from Krishnanagar in West Bengal added: “How are perceived affronts to your power & pelf worthy of such speedy disposal when issues like CAA, 370 & Habeas Corpus petitions perish for months?” Ms. Moitra also said that the court is for “millions of poor who even today say ‘I will go to Court’ — brute display of power does not become you. It shames us all.”

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2020 2:02:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/opposition-questions-prashant-bhushans-conviction/article32357096.ece

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