What’s the best strategy to fight two contempt cases filed on a person? Some might say, go all out and fight tooth and nail to prove your innocence but that is the way of a layman. And a senior advocate and super intellectual like Prashant Bhushan might disagree with your viewpoint.
With two ongoing contempt cases pending against Bhushan, the Septuagenarian decided that enough is enough and the best way to win the case is to get the law under which he is charged, null and void. Masterstroke, isn’t it?
Bhushan and his coterie of intellectuals/progressive thinkers have taken the onus on themselves to remove the archaic law stating it hinders the public discourse. Of course, Bhushan and his gang is doing it for the collective greater good.
The unholy trio of Prashant Bhushan, N Ram, and Arun Shourie on Friday filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of section 2(c)(i) of Contempt of Courts Act, which criminalizes publication of any matter that could scandalize or lower the authority of courts.
The three petitioners represented by advocate Kamini Jaiswal argued that the law was in violation of freedom of speech under Article 19 of the Constitution and effectively gags discourse on matters of public importance.
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 process 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 or the doing of any other act whatsoever which
(i) scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or
(ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
However, the segue of the article is the fall from grace of Mr. Arun Shourie, who has now joined hands with N. Ram–the latter is a senior journalist and director of The Hindu Publishing Group. N Ram is infamously known for exposing the Bofors scandal and also making a mockery of himself and the newspaper by cropping pictures of classified Government documents.
Last year, N Ram had published selective classified documents in his newspaper where he sensationalized the news and tried to mislead the public by insinuating that a scam had happened.
Arun Shourie, who held the office of the Minister of Disinvestment, Communication and Information Technology in the Vajpayee government had a bitter fallout with his parent party after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came into power.
Shortly after PM Modi’s accession to the biggest democratic position of India, Shourie became a vocal critic of the Modi government, eventually parting ways with the BJP.
In fact, he has often been too harsh in his criticism of the BJP and has frequently leveled allegations of wrongdoings by PM Modi in the Rafale deal.
He had even joined hands with former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha and Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan in his relentless efforts to corner the Modi government over the Rafale deal. Along with Sinha and Bhushan, Arun Shourie targeted PM Modi over the Rafale deal from the beginning, without a shred of evidence to back those claims.
Even after the Supreme Court dismissed all petition alleging foul play in the Rafale deal, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha decided to file review pleas.
The 3 Judge Bench comprising of former CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph held that the review petitions filed by Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha lacked merit and therefore threw it down the bin.
Even after his review petition was quashed, Shourie did not relent and went on to demand a CBI probe into the Rafale deal.
Despite Shourie’s staunch opposition to the BJP and baseless allegations over the Rafale deal, PM Modi and BJP have been silent in demeanor. When Shourie had an accident last year and was admitted to the hospital, PM Modi forgetting all the political hostilities went to meet the former Union Minister.
Whatever the reason for his fallout with BJP was, one cannot help but wonder how bitter can someone be to join hands with the likes of N Ram and Prashant Bhushan on not single but multiple occasions when a few years back those individuals were on the diametrically opposite end of your spectrum.
Truly a fall from grace for the leader who in past had been the nucleus of the RW movement having penned books like, The World Of Fatwas: The Sharia In Action, Hindu Temples-what happened to them, amongst others.
One should read his books penned before 2014, where he takes routine swipe at historians, missionaries, and others, and takes contrarian views on popular subjects. Hope the left which champions Shourie as one of their own now, has read his previous works.