'Chutta Nahin Hai?': Prashant Bhushan's Re 1 Fine Hailed as 'Moral Victory', Memes Flood Twitter
A smiling Prashant Bhushan was seen holding up a Re 1 coin minutes after the Supreme Court verdict | Image credit: News18
In a bizarre turn to one of the most-watched cases in the Supreme Court in 2020, the Justice Arun Mishra-headed bench has asked advocate and activist Prashant Bhushan to pay a fine of Re 1 in the contempt case.
The top court fined Bhushan after finding him guilty in a case of contempt for two tweets regarding Justice SS Bobde and the Supreme Court. Bhushan has been asked to pay the fine by September 15 failing which he could face a jail term for three months besides a debarment from practice for a period of three years.
The verdict and the "punishment" came as a surprise to many and social media was instantly filled with reactions. Photos of a smiling Bhushan holding up a one rupee coin along with senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan who defended him in Court.
According to journalists, the image was clicked "minutes after the Supreme Court verdict".
Minutes after the Supreme Court verdict... Prashant Bhushan (all smiles) holding a ₹1 coin along with his lawyer Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan. pic.twitter.com/9ZJKznb3PQ— Nalini (@nalinisharma_) August 31, 2020
While some were taken aback by the SC order, others hoped that Bhushan should just pay the fine and get it over with. While many understood the symbolic value of the fine, risking three years of debarment from practice or three months in prison was seen as far more debilitating than paying the fine itself.
I hope Bhushan pays it. Jail would have been worth martyrdom. Not this. Manto was convicted for obscenity in Karachi and paid it though he disagreed with the sentence and the verdict. https://t.co/F78uRg7SSf— Aakar Patel (@Aakar__Patel) August 31, 2020
A fine of Re 1 on @pbhushan1 . All that noise, energy, court's precious time... for Re 1. IMHO Prashant should now pay the fine and get on with his real job - appearing in court for those who need him most. One day, one will tell the world what really happened.— Maneesh Chhibber (@maneeshchhibber) August 31, 2020
Yet others ridiculed the verdict with jokes.
He should give a Pulse and say “chutta nahi hai”. https://t.co/iyuBjwK7Td— Ivan Mehta (@IndianIdle) August 31, 2020
Defenders of the apex court, however, called the verdict fair, stating that it proved that "no one was above the law", as proclaimed by advocate and Twitter user Gaurav Bhatia.
A slap of Rs 1 is louder than a punch of thousands of crore, this should have happened a long time back. No one is above the law. We are all foot soldiers of the institution, the institution is to be protected at any cost. #PrashantBhushan https://t.co/mKVxqPoRB4— Gaurav Bhatia Sr Adv BJP गौरव भाटिया (@gauravbh) August 31, 2020
While the verdict brought cheer among the supporters of Bhushan who had been criticizing the court's contempt proceedings as an assault on free speech, some cautioned that Prashant may have owed this 'moral victory' to his privilege and that others in his place with lesser privilege and influence might not have fared the same.
The SC bench, also comprising Justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, said an order on sentencing was a must in the given circumstances.
The court agreed with Attorney General KK Venugopal's submissions that there does not need to be a stringent punishment or a jail term for Bhushan in view of his contribution as a lawyer.
The bench, in its order, took note that Bhushan chose not to apologise or express regret despite repeated opportunities.