Supreme Court issues notice to Prashant Bhushan over tweets

His tweets on its “role” in the “last six years” and photo of Bobde on a motorbike undermines its dignity and CJI office in public eye, it says

Updated - July 22, 2020 11:46 pm IST

Published - July 22, 2020 05:06 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prashant Bhushan

Prashant Bhushan

The Supreme Court on Wednesday initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against noted civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan, saying his tweets on its “role” in the “last six years” and a photograph of Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde on a motorbike undermines its dignity and the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) in the public eye.

“We are, prima facie , of the view that the aforesaid statements on Twitter have brought the administration of justice in disrepute and are capable of undermining the dignity and authority of the institution of Supreme Court in general and the office of the Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of public at large. We take suo motu cognisance of the aforesaid tweet also apart from the tweet quoted above and suo motu register the proceedings”, a three-judge Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra recorded in a written order.

The court issued contempt notice to Mr. Bhushan, to which he has to respond. It also issued notice to Attorney General K.K. Venugopal to assist the court in the proceedings. The case is scheduled for hearing on August 5.

Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya, appearing for social media platform Twitter, said the cause title of the case showed ‘Twitter Communications India Pvt Limited’ as the respondent party. He said the correct description is ‘Twitter Incorporated, California, USA’.

The court asked the social media platform to file a reply.

Another contempt case

Meanwhile, another suo motu contempt case against Mr. Bhushan, dating back to 2009, is listed on July 24 before the same combination of judges. Former Tehelka magazine editor Tarun Tejpal is a respondent party in the case with Mr. Bhushan.

The case was initiated on the basis of an interview given by Mr. Bhushan, in which he made remarks about the presence of former CJI S.H. Kapadia on the Forest Bench of the apex court that decided the Niyamgiri mining lease case in Odisha in favour of Sterlite Industries.

Last year, Mr. Bhushan turned down an offer from the Supreme Court to “unconditionally apologise” to a Bench led by Justice Mishra during a contempt proceedings regarding his February 1, 2019 tweets claiming that the government misled the court about the appointment of M. Nageshwar Rao as interim CBI Director. Mr. Bhushan said the tweets were a “genuine mistake”.

Justice Mishra had then said that if a lawyer had grievances with the administration of justice by a court, he ought to return to the court with his queries rather than voice them in the media.

“This is troubling all of us as an institution. This is happening in all cases of importance. Motives are attributed to judges,” Justice Mishra had observed.

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