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It is criticism, not contempt: Bhushan

Prashant Bhushan

Prashant Bhushan  

Noted civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan maintained in the Supreme Court that his tweets in June of a photograph showing Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde astride a motorbike and the court’s role in the past six years amounted to “criticism” and not contempt.

“This is criticism... Why don’t you take it objectively?” senior advocate Dushyant Dave, for Mr. Bhushan, asked a three-judge Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, on Wednesday.

Mr. Dave said a sitting judge, who went on to become a CJI, had “criticised” the functioning of the Supreme Court in a press meetin January 2018. Justice Ranjan Gogoi, one of the four judges who had met the media, went on to become the 46th Chief Justice and was Justice Bobde’s immediate predecessor.

Justice Mishra asked whether Mr. Dave was justifying the press conference or what was said in it.

“The holding of January 2018 press conference was fully justified. If the then CJI was not listening to their points, what could they do? If citizens stand up and criticise the system, say everything is not hunky-dory, how can it be contempt?” the senior lawyer asked.

He said hundreds of people had tweeted the photograph of Chief Justice Bobde on the motorbike. “There are many amusing tweets by others... Is the court going to call them all in?” Mr. Dave asked.

‘Driven by anguish’

He said Mr. Bhushan’s tweets were driven by anguish. He referred to how some sections of the media generated hate against the members of the Tablighi Jamaat who got sick. He submitted that some recent cases required a timely healing touch from the Supreme Court.

“You are both mother and father to a 100 crore people! You are their parents... You alone can do something for the people,” Mr. Dave submitted in court.

He referred to the judgments in the Rafale and Ayodhya title dispute cases. He recalled how a Supreme Court judge had sat in his own cause on a Saturday. He wondered when the Justice A.K. Patnaik report on the “larger conspiracy” against judiciary would come out.

“These are serious issues striking at the core of the judiciary. Anyone would be anguished,” Mr. Dave said.

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