Former BJP leader, minister, editor and outspoken critic of the Modi government Arun Shourie lashed out at the Supreme Court for convicting Prashant Bhushan of contempt, calling it ‘an insecurity bordering on paranoia’.
Mocking the court’s 108-page judgement, Shourie wondered how the ‘puff of two tweets could shake the central pillar of the largest democracy in the world’.
Speaking to Karan Thapar for The Wire, he said: “I say this as a person who knows Modi better than the judges. Democracy has been eroded. Have they assisted in it? … they should look at the mirror and ask themselves that question.”
He went on to call Prashant Bhushan’s tweet ‘an understatement’ and said ‘SC assisted in an assault on democracy, not just an erosion’.
Shourie pointed out that former judges had publicly criticised the court but none of their criticism was considered contemptuous.
Speaking about Bhushan’s tweet on CJI Bobde sitting on a bike, Shourie said: “Please don’t sit on mobikes costing 50 lakhs when you cannot afford it.”
He went on to state that judges were like a ‘house on a hill’.
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Citizens slams critics of Bhushan judgement
A group of citizens comprising retired judges and bureaucrats, has slammed those criticising the Supreme Court's conviction of lawyer Prashant Bhushan in a contempt of court case, accusing them of using every opportunity to strike at the roots of democratic institutions like Parliament, Election Commission and the apex court.
"We are deeply concerned by statements by a group of persons who wrongly claim themselves to solely represent the civil society and use every opportunity to strike at the roots of Indian democratic institutions such as Parliament, Election Commission of India, and now, the Supreme Court of India," the group said in a statement.
The group had also submitted a petition to President Ram Nath Kovind on July 30, which stated that "stray groups with hidden political agendas" and claiming to be the sole custodians of Constitution and democracy, cannot be allowed to denigrate democratic institutions, especially the apex court.
More than 100 signatories to the statement included former Mumbai High Court chief justice K R Vyas, former Sikkim HC chief justice Permod Kohli, former petroleum secretary Saurabh Chandra and former Punjab DGP P C Dogra.
They noted that Bhushan is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court, and 'contempt of court' cannot be justified by any "pressure group".
"The legal profession is a solemn and serious occupation, with constitutional, professional and ethical obligations. Any violation of the principles of professional ethics by an advocate is unfortunate and unacceptable," the group said.
772 lawyers write on attempt to browbeating judiciary
A group of 772 lawyers have written to Chief Justice of India, S.A. Bobde, raising concerns about an emerging trend to "browbeat and intimidate the judiciary".
"India has witnessed a series of attacks by institutional disruptors against judges who are unwilling to agree with them and toe the line drawn by them. It is unfortunate that when political ends of lawyers are not served by a decision of the court, they vilify the court by making scandalising remarks. The Supreme Court of India, as well as the judges, are subject to both scurrilous language, malicious attacks and scandalising remarks," the lawyers said in the letter which comes against the backdrop of the Prashant Bhushan case.
Bhushan seeks deferment
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who has been held guilty of contempt of court, has moved the Supreme Court to defer the hearing on sentence on Thursday, pending consideration of the review application, which he intends to file within the limitation period, in the "interests of justice".
In an application filed through advocate Kamini Jaiswal, he submitted that human judgement is not infallible, and despite all the provisions ensuring a fair trial and a just decision, mistakes are possible, and errors cannot be ruled out.
"In criminal contempt proceedings, this court functions like a trial court and is also the last court. Section 19(1) gives a statutory right of appeal to a person found guilty of contempt by the High Court. The fact that there is no appeal against an order of this court makes it doubly necessary that it takes the utmost precaution to ensure that justice is not only done but seen to be done," said his application.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Bhushan in the 2009 contempt case in the apex court, had submitted before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra that Bhushan may file a review against the August 14 verdict which held him guilty of contempt of court.
Bhushan contended that "there would be gross injustice since there would be no occasion to examine the correctness of the findings arrived at in a suo motu criminal contempt proceeding before putting the convicted contemnor's liberty at stake".