On Monday, the Supreme Court of India fined Prashant Bhushan Re 1. Failure to pay his fine would result in him being sentenced to jail for 3 months and will be suspended from practising law for three years!
Bhushan was earlier this month held guilty of contempt of court by the Supreme Court for two of his tweets, the first one posted on June 29, related to his comment/post on a picture of CJI Bobde on a high-end bike.
In his second tweet, Bhushan expressed his opinion on the role of the last four CJIs amid the state of affairs in the country.
Bhushan has to deposit the fine with the Supreme Court registry by September 15, said a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra.
The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, said freedom of speech cannot be curtailed but rights of others need to be respected.
On August 14, the apex court had held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his two derogatory tweets against the judiciary and said they cannot be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary made in the public interest.
Bhushan in his statement had refused to offer an apology to the Supreme Court for the tweets, saying what he had expressed represented his bona fide belief which he continued to hold.
Chronology of the case:
Jun 27: Bhushan tweets about the undeclared emergency in the country and the role of the Supreme Court and last four chief justices of India.
Jun 29: Bhushan tweets about Chief Justice S A Bobde trying a Harley Davidson super-bike in his hometown Nagpur during the coronavirus outbreak.
Jul 22: SC initiates contempt proceedings against Bhushan after taking note of a complaint filed by a lawyer in this regard; issues notice to him.
Aug 14: SC holds Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his both tweets 'against the judiciary'.
Aug 24: Bhushan files a response refusing to apologise to the SC while hearing argument of point of quantum of sentence.
Aug 25: Attorney General K K Venugopal urges SC to let Bhushan off the hook.
SC once again asks Bhushan to apologies. He refuses.
SC reserves judgment on Bhushan's sentencing.
Aug 31: SC imposes fine of Re 1 on Bhushan, to be paid by September 15; default to lead to 3-month-jail term, debarment from practice in the apex court for 3 years.
(With inputs from PTI)