Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra reserves judgment in Prashant Bhushan’s contempt case after insisting for apology; invokes Gandhi to convince Bhushan to apologise

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The Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra on Tuesday reserved its judgment in the contempt case against lawyer Prashant Bhushan after insisting for an apology from the latter. This was after Bhushan filed a supplementary statement refusing to apologise for his tweets.

Justice Mishra, who’s retiring next week, repeatedly advised Bhushan to apologise and even took a break for 30 minutes for the lawyer to reconsider his statement. He said, “Tell us, what is wrong in using the word apology? What is wrong in seeking apology? Will that be reflection of guilt? Apology is a magical word, which can heal many things. I am talking generally and not talking about Prashant.”

Justice Mishra also invoked Gandhi in a bid to persuade Bhushan to apologise, but to no avail. He said, “You will got to the category of Mahatma Gandhi if you apologize. Gandhiji used to do that. If you have hurt anybody, you must apply balm. One should not feel belittled by that.”

Bhushan had said that an insincere apology would amount to the contempt of his conscience and of an institution, adding that as an officer of court he felt it his duty to ‘speak up when he believes there is a deviation from its sterling record.’

He had said, “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 had added, “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 had gone on to add that an apology could not be a mere incantation and any apology has to, as the court has itself put it, be sincerely made.

“This is especially so when I have made the statements bonafide and pleaded truths with full details, which have not been dealt with by the Court. 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 the contempt of my conscience and of an institution that I hold in highest esteem,” he had continued.

A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court had held Bhushan guilty of contempt on 14 August. On 20 August, the Bench comprising Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari had granted him time till 24 August to tender an unconditional apology. If the Supreme Court decides to sentence Bhushan, he could be imprisoned up to six months or with a fine of up to Rs 2,000 or with both as punishment.

Live Update:

  • SC concludes hearing in the #PrashantBhushan case with respect to sentence in contempt case after hearing Attorney General for India, K K Venugopal, and Senior Advocate Dr. Rajeev Dhavan, for Bhushan. (Live Law)
  • Tell us, what is wrong in using the word apology? What is wrong in seeking apology? Will that be reflection of guilt? Apology is a magical word, which can heal many things. I am talking generally and not talking about Prashant: Justice Mishra (Live Law)
  • J Mishra : I belong to old class. I have reprimanded lawyers for going to press in pending cases. There is a difference between an officer of the court and a politician. If you are going to press for everything, you are over identifying without your causes.
  • Justice Mishra says it is “painful” to read all the statements of the Bhushan and his justifications. This is not the way a senior lawyer like Prashant Bhushan over 30 years of experience should behave. (Live Law)
  • Dhavan : If Bhushan is punished, there will be one set of articles calling him a martyr and another set of articles saying he was rightly punished. We all want this controversy to end. This can end only by judicial statesmanship. (Live Law)
  • Justice Mishra : If the Court decides to punish him, what can be the punishment? Dhavan : One punishment which the court has given in cases is to bar the contemnor from appearing in the Court.

  • Dhavan says the only way to Court to close the case is to say “we have taken into account his statement. Though we disagree with many things he said, we caution him to be a little restrained in the manner in which he criticizes the court, and be sure on facts’ (Live Law)
  • Your lordships have held in Arundhati Roy’s case that ‘our shoulders are broad enough to shrug off’ comments against it: Attorney General (Live Law)
  • Attorney General suggests to take Bhushan’s remarks off the court records and close the case J. Mishra : How can they be taken off the record when Bhushan himself says they are his bona fide belief. (LIve Law)
  • This a case where your lordships should forgive him (Bhushan) or perhaps warn him. This is a case where the Court can take a “compassionate view” and that will be appreciated by the Bar and will befit the status of the Court (Live Law)
  • SC Bench Headed by Justice Arun Mishra Orders To Post 11 Year Old Contempt Case Against Prashant Bhushan To Appropriate Bench On Orders Of CJI. (Live Law)
  • Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan submits that Bhushan has raised some questions of law and that the matter ought to be referred to Constitution Bench. Dhavan also urges the bench to hear Attorney General as issues of constitutional importance are involved. (Live Law)

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