SC defers hearing in 2009 Prashant Bhushan contempt case: CJI to place before appropriate Bench
New Delhi, Aug 25: The Supreme Court has deferred hearing on the 2009 contempt case against Advocate Prashant Bhushan. The court has requested the Chief Justice of India to place the matter before an appropriate Bench.
The court after holding Bhushan in contempt was hearing the arguments on sentencing.
The court had last week given Bhushan more time and said that he should apologise.
On Monday, Bhushan filed a fresh statement refusing to apologise. He said that retracting his tweets, for which he was held guilty would mean contempt of his own conscience. An insincere apology for them now will amount to "a contempt of my conscience and of an institution that I hold in highest esteem, Bhushan also said.
During the earlier hearing, Bhushan had said that he would not apologise.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he said I do not ask for mercy. I do not ask for magnanimity. I shall submit cheerfully to whatever punishment the court imposes on me lawfully.
Bhushan also said that his relationship with the court was neither of a courtier or a cheerleader but an officer of the court. He also said that he has fought cases for the public interest at some personal and professional cost. My tweets were not done in a fit of absent-mindedness. My expressions are permissible before any democracy.
Justice Arun Mishra remarked that doing good things is welcome. We appreciate all those efforts. But where is the balancing. If you do not balance your comments, you will destroy the institution. We do not punish for contempt so easily. Balancing has to be there, restraint has to be there. There is a Lakshman Rekha for everything. Why should you cross the line, Justice Mishra also said.
When the Bench asked whether they should give Bhushan time to reflect on his statement, Attorney General K K Venugopal said that he should be. He has done a tremendous amount of public good. You have held him guilty for contempt, but do not punish him, the AG also said.
The Bench then asked Bhushan to reconsider his statement observing that it could be very lenient only if the person concerned showed a sense of remorse. The Bench has asked him to respond in two days.
The SC today took up the sentence hearing in the case after it had last week held Bhushan guilty of contempt.
The case concerns Bhushan's comments on the judiciary during an interview to the Tehelka magazine in 2009.
The contempt case was taken on the basis of a complaint by senior advocate Harish Salve. This was in relation to a 2009 interview given by Bhushan to the Tehelka magazine.