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'Can't Do 10 Crimes for 100 Good Deeds': SC Gives Prashant Bhushan 2 Days to Reconsider Statement

By: Utkarsh Anand

Last Updated: August 20, 2020, 23:30 IST

File photo of Prashant Bhushan. (PTI)

File photo of Prashant Bhushan. (PTI)

The bench asked Bhushan to reconsider this statement, observing it can be "very lenient" only if the person concerned can show a sense of remorse from the core of his heart.

Doing a hundred good things can't give a person the license to commit 10 crimes, the Supreme Court said on Thursday even as advocate Prashant Bhushan said he would "cheerfully submit to any penalty" in the criminal contempt case.

The bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari was hearing Bhushan and his lawyers on the point of punishment when Bhushan read out his statement. He refused to apologise and said the two contentious tweets comprise his bonafide belief and were a part of his duty as a citizen and as an officer of the court.

The bench asked Bhushan to reconsider this statement, observing it can be "very lenient" only if the person concerned can show a sense of remorse from the core of his heart.

"Criminal contempt has serious consequences. Whatever has been done is done. But we want the person concerned to have a sense of remorse. The person must reconsider," said Justice Mishra.

On his part, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing Bhushan, said that he has provided a bonafide justification of his tweets and that it is unclear how his tweets could bring down the majesty of judiciary.

Dhavan emphasised that the court must also remain mindful that the person before it was someone who has filed several cases in public interest. At this, the bench retorted: "You may do hundreds good things but that doesn't give you a license to do ten crimes."

The court told Dhavan: "It is after all about if a person wants to purge the contempt. One should realise where is the line, the ‘lakshman rekha’. There is no person on earth who can't commit a mistake. A person should be able to realise he has committed a mistake."

Justice Mishra further said: "There is a ‘lakshman rekha’ for everything. Why cross it? We welcome pursuing good cases in public interest but remember, it is now after conviction. And it is a serious thing. I haven't convicted anyone of contempt in 24 years as a judge. This is my first such order."

It asked Bhushan to think over his statement and come back after two days.

Meanwhile, Attorney General KK Venugopal requested the bench not to punish Bhushan, citing his good work as a lawyer.

Referring to Bhushan's tweets that led to his conviction, Venugopal added he has a list of five judges who talked about lack of democracy in the Supreme Court. "I also have a list of nine judges who talked about judicial corruption. Many judges have said it," contended the top law officer.

But the bench told Venugopal that it is not hearing a review petition and that Bhushan's conviction order stands.

The court also requested AG to go through Bhushan's affidavit in justification of his tweets, saying it needs to examine if his reply is a defence or an aggravation of contempt.

The bench, which at the beginning declined to defer the proceedings awaiting a decision on review petition, is expected to hear this case again on Monday. "We don't want to delay these proceedings," said the bench.
first published:August 20, 2020, 14:09 IST
last updated:August 20, 2020, 23:30 IST