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'Pained...But Won't Apologise': Prashant Bhushan Tells SC He Did His Duty as Citizen With Judiciary Tweet

Prashant Bhushan (Reuters File)

Prashant Bhushan (Reuters File)

Prashant Bhushan said that his tweets were out of a 'bona fide attempt to discharge his duty as a citizen', and he is ready for any punishment which the Supreme Court may inflict.

Refusing to apologise for his tweets, activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Thursday said that he is shocked and pained that the Supreme Court did not provide him with the complaint on the basis of which the contempt was taken.

"I do not ask for mercy. I do not appeal for magnanimity. I cheerfully submit to any punishment that court may impose", Bhushan said quoting Mahatma Gandhi.

Live Law quoted the lawyer as saying that his tweets were out of a "bona fide attempt to discharge his duty as a citizen". "I would have been failing in my duty if I did not speak up at this juncture of history. I submit to any penalty which the court may inflict. It would be contemptuous on my part to offer apology," he said.

The Supreme Court has rejected the submission of Bhushan that the arguments on quantum of sentence in the contempt proceedings in which he has been held guilty be heard by another top court bench.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra gave assurance to Bhushan that no punishment will be acted upon till his review against the order convicting him in the case will be decided.

The bench also comprising Justices B R Gavi and Krishna Murari told senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing Bhushan, that he is asking them to commit an "act of impropriety" by saying that argument on sentencing be heard by another bench.

At the outset, Dave sought deferment of hearing on the quantum of sentence in the case saying that he would be filing a review petition against the conviction order.

The hearing in the matter is going on.

The top court on August 14 held that Bhushan attempted to scandalise the entire institution of the Supreme Court and said, “If such an attack is not dealt with, with requisite degree of firmness, it may affect the national honour and prestige in the comity of nations”. In its 108-page verdict, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, had said: “The tweets which are based on the distorted facts, in our considered view, amount to committing criminal contempt.

“In the result, we hold alleged contemnor No.1 – Mr. Prashant Bhushan guilty of having committed criminal contempt of this Court”. The top court had, however, discharged the notice issued to Twitter Inc, California, USA in the contempt case after accepting its explanation that it is only an intermediary and does not have any control on what the users post on the platform.

It had said the company has also shown its bona fides immediately after the cognizance was taken by this Court as it has suspended both the tweets. The top court had analysed the two tweets of Bhushan posted on the micro-blogging site on June 27 on the functioning of judiciary in past six years, and on July 22 with regard to Chief Justice of India S A Bobde.

"In our considered view, it cannot be said that the tweets can be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary, made bona fide in the public interest," it had said.

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