Supreme Court brings Contempt Proceedings against Bhushan for “derogatory” tweets

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New Delhi, Jul 22  The Supreme Court Wednesday issued notices to Attorney General K K Venugopal and advocate Prashant Bhushan on the contempt proceedings it has initiated against the activist-lawyer for his alleged derogatory tweets against the judiciary.

The apex court directed that Twitter INC be made a party, instead of Twitter India, to the contempt proceedings it has initiated suo motu (on its own) and asked the US-based firm to file a response in the matter.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra was told by Twitter’s counsel that if the top court directs, then they would disable the alleged contemptuous tweets of Bhushan.

The bench, which asked the Attorney General to assist in the matter, has posted the case for hearing on August 5.

The allegedly contemptuous tweets were critical of the top court and posted by Bhushan on Twitter on June 27 and June 29.

Bhushan’s tweeted criticising the Supreme Court role of the last four chief justices – Justices S.A. Bobde, Ranjan Gogoi, Dipak Misra and J.S. Khehar – for having played a role in the destruction of democracy “without a formal Emergency”:

“When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs”.

In another tweet he criticised Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde for riding a motorcycle without a helmet or mask “when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice!”:

CJI rides a 50 Lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice!

However, most legal observers say these tweets, and other statements by Bhushan that have been critical of the judiciary, do not amount to contempt of court as the term is formally understood.

A legalobserver remarked: “We cannot countenance a situation where citizens live in fear of the court’s arbitrary power to punish for contempt for words of criticism on the conduct of judges, in or out of court.”

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