Would be contempt of my conscience: Prashant Bhushan refuses to retract or apologise

Lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan on Monday, who is held guilty of contempt for his tweets on Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and the Supreme Court, refused to retract or apologise.

Prashant Bhushan filed supplementary reply in the suo motu contempt proceeding before Supreme Court for his tweets against former SC judges on Monday. "I believe that Supreme Court is the last bastion of hope for protection of fundamental rights," he said.

"If I retract a statement before this court that I otherwise believe to be true or offer an insincere apology, that in my eyes would amount to contempt of my conscience & of an institution that I hold in highest esteem", Bhushan told the three-judge bench hearing the case.

Bhushan said as an officer of court he believes as a duty to speak up when he believe there is a deviation from its sterling record.

"Therefore I expressed myself in good faith, not to malign the Supreme Court or any particular Chief Justice, but to offer constructive criticism so that the court can arrest any drift away from its long-standing role as a guardian of the Constitution and custodian of peoples' rights," he said.

He said, "My tweets represented this bonafide belief that I continue to hold. Public expression of these beliefs was I believe, in line with my higher obligations as a citizen and a loyal officer of this court. Therefore, an apology for expression of these beliefs, conditional or unconditional, would be insincere." Bhushan further said that an apology cannot be a mere incantation and any apology has to, as the court has itself put it, be sincerely made.

On August 20, the top court had granted time till August 24 to Bhushan to reconsider his "defiant statement" refusing to apologise and tender "unconditional apology" for contemptuous tweets against the judiciary and rejected his submission that quantum of punishment be decided by another bench.

The apex court, on August 14, had held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his two derogatory tweets against the judiciary saying they cannot be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary made in the public interest.

He faces simple imprisonment of up to six months or with a fine of up to Rs 2,000 or with both as punishment.

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