A image of lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan smiling while holding up a Re 1 coin has been going viral on social media with many hailing it as a sign of Bhushan's moral victory over an attempt to muzzle freedom of speech.
A Supreme Court bench on Monday sentenced Bhushan to a Re 1 fine after it found him guilty of contempt.
Bhushan is required to pay the fine by September 15 or he will be jailed for 3 months and debarred from practicing for 3 years.
The token penalty came after an SC bench led by Arun Mishra held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt on August 14. It had then maintained that judges' magnanimity cannot be stretched to become a weakness against "malicious and calculated attack on judiciary."
Monday's verdict was met with cheer from several quarters of civil society including Bhushan himself who shared seemingly celebratory images of himself on social media.
My lawyer & senior colleague Rajiv Dhavan contributed 1 Re immediately after the contempt judgement today which I gratefully accepted pic.twitter.com/vVXmzPe4ss — Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) August 31, 2020
In one photo, senior SC advocate Rajeev Dhavan is seen giving him Bhushan a Re 1 coin and the next, a beaming Bhushan can be seen holding the coin up for all to see. "My lawyer & senior colleague Rajiv Dhavan contributed 1 Re immediately after the contempt judgement today which I gratefully accepted," Bhushan said, seemingly confirming that the verdict was accepted by him.
According to journalists, the images were clicked minutes after the verdict.
The images have since gone viral on Twitter. Many also commented on the "hookah" that can be seen in Dhavan's hand. A human rights activist and Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists, Dhavan had previously represented the Sunni Waqf Board and other Muslim parties in the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid land dispute.
And this...#PrashantBhushan with his lawyer Rajeev Dhavan. Sr Adv Dhavan with his very famous hookah.#SupremeCourt #ContemptCase pic.twitter.com/0Lcja3ozDI — Utkarsh Anand (@utkarsh_aanand) August 31, 2020
Not to be missed - the ‘infamous’ hookah in Rajeev Dhavan’s hand. 😃 — Nalini 🌼 (@nalinisharma_) August 31, 2020
The SC bench has found two tweets made by Bhushan to be in contempt of court. One was regarding a photo of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde riding a motorcycle that Bhushan shared, commenting on the fact that the CJI was not wearing a mask despite the pandemic.
On Monday, the SC imposed a token penalty of Re 1 on Bhushan as his punishment in the criminal contempt case after Bhushan refused to tender and apology for the tweets even after the Court found him guilty of contempt.