Serial PIL petitioner, Prashant Bhushan, after constantly targeting and scandalizing the Indian judiciary for years has now found himself in a pickle. The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday took suo moto against Prashant Bhushan for his reckless behavior on social media platforms and initiated contempt of court proceedings against him with Twitter India also being made a party.
A three-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai, and Krishna Murari was hearing the case filed against Bhushan and Twitter India over a tweet posted by Bhushan himself, questioning Chief Justice of India SA Bobde for riding a bike in Nagpur.
“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 the public at large,” a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra observed.
CJI rides a 50 Lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice! pic.twitter.com/PwKOS22iMz
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) June 29, 2020
Justice Mishra mentioned on record that the subject in the matter is the contempt case against Prashant Bhushan and that his tweet was also carried out by Times of India.
Justice Mishra also took note of a tweet posted by Bhushan on June 27, through which he questioned the functioning of the Supreme Court, and particularly the last four Chief Justices of India. The tweet states, “When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs.”
When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) June 27, 2020
A week before the Apex Court registered a suo motu contempt case against Bhushan on July 9, Mahek Maheshwari, an advocate based in Guna, Madhya Pradesh, had filed a petition against Bhushan and Twitter India seeking contempt action against both.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Arun Mishra to shortly hear it's Suo Motu contempt case against Advocate Prashant Bhushan and Twitter India#SupremeCourt pic.twitter.com/fiRnRq2zZL
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) July 22, 2020
In the plea, Maheshwari said that the tweet is of serious nature and he is questioning the sovereign functions of the CJI. “The remarks are too inhuman forgetting that how much Hon’ble CJI and the other justices are stretching themselves to ensure justice to the citizens that they allow hearing by Video Conferencing Mode and they are not even enjoying vacations properly,” Maheshwari added.
Meanwhile, Twitter India looked in a hurry to disintegrate itself from the case as its attorney Sajan Poovayya iterated that they had been impleaded incorrectly in the case. The correct party will be Twitter Inc. of California.
However, when Twitter India tried to play smart by saying that they will delete the tweet once the court ordered it to do so, the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra rapped Twitter Inc by questioning ‘why was it waiting for a court order’.
“Why can’t you do it on your own? Even after we have initiated the contempt proceedings, do you want to wait for a formal order? We think we won’t pass any order and will leave it your wisdom,” the bench told the senior lawyer.
According to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, contempt of court can either be civil contempt or criminal contempt. Civil contempt means wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
On the other hand, criminal contempt means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or otherwise) of any matter.
The Indian courts have repeatedly given the stick to Bhushan for his rather publicity garnering PILs which have time and again been questioned by the courts.