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Reconsider decision in Prashant Bhushan case, Supreme Court urged

Prashant Bhushan. File photo.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

The Supreme Court has lowered its own dignity in the eyes of the ordinary persons by convicting civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan for criminal contempt, said the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) in a statement on Saturday.

Mr. Bhushan, CJAR’s convenor, was found guilty of scandalising the Supreme Court with his tweets on a photograph of Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde and the court. His defence was his right to free speech. He said criticism cannot lead to contempt. The hearing on his punishment is scheduled for August 20.

“Once hailed as one of the ‘most powerful Constitutional courts’ in the world, it is unfortunate that the court is intolerant of even the most temperate and well-intentioned criticism. We call upon each and every sitting judge of the Hon’ble Supreme Court to reconsider this decision that has, more than anything, harmed the court’s own prestige and dignity in the eyes of the public,” the statement said.

When the functioning of the court has been disrupted due to the pandemic and important cases concerning the rights of millions are being adjourned for months, the haste with which the Court has proceeded to hear and convict Mr. Bhushan is unseemly, it said.

Also read: Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt | What was the hurry, asks Justice Lodha

The conviction, the CJAR said, is intended to send across a message of stern consequence to critics of the judiciary.

“The judiciary commands respect and never demands it. Respect and dignity cannot be demanded from citizens on the threat of contempt,” the statement said.

It said criminal contempt to prop up the court’s dignity is an archaic law abandoned in other countries.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 9:11:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/reconsider-decision-in-prashant-bhushan-case-supreme-court-urged/article32363897.ece

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