oppn parties Supreme Court Versus Prashant Bhushan

News Snippets

  • India conducts a record 6.4 lakh coronavirus tests in a single day on Friday, 31st August
  • Fresh Covid cases top 57000 in India on Friday. More than 11 lakh cases reported in July
  • The US says that China's incursions in several countries were to see the world's reaction
  • The scheme calling for local manufacturing of mobile phones receives applications from Apple vendors like Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron, along with Samsung and some Indian players
  • The Enforcement Directorate has started an investigation into money laundering in the Sushant Singh Rajput case after reports of missing funds from his accounts and the FIR in Patna
  • 38 persons were killed after consuming spurious liquor in Punjab's Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts
  • Mehbooba Mufti to spend three more months in detention as the J&K administration extends its order under the Public Safety Act
  • The J&K administration has released Sajad Lone, the chairman of J&K People's Conference after about a year in detention
  • The defence ministry has written to the CBFC to say that web series on the army must seek approval without knowing that the CBFC has no mandate to regulate such content
  • Google and Facebook will now have to pay to carry news from mainstream media in Australia, the first country to enact such a legislation
  • Centre says herd immunity cannot be a strategic option for a country with a huge population density like India
  • Sushant Singh Rajput's father and the Bihar government move the SC in order to prevent his ex-girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty from getting the case transferred from Patna to Mumbai
  • ED seeks a copy of the FIR from Bihar police as rumours float about a Rs 15-crore illegal transaction in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case
  • Several Western Naval Command officers, including a captain, booked by the CBI in a Rs 7-crore fraud case
  • Hardik Shah, a 2010-batch IAS officer, is to be the next private secretary to the Prime Minister
Home Minister Amit Shah tests Covid+, admitted to hospital. He had attended a cabinet meeting on Wednesday
oppn parties
Supreme Court Versus Prashant Bhushan

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-07-23 19:57:58

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

A lawyer-activist tweets negatively about some recent judicial decisions and questions the Chief Justice for sitting on a motorbike without a mask and helmet. The Supreme Court takes suo motu cognizance and charges him for contempt of court. The apex court's decision to haul up Prashant Bhushan for his tweets is not correct. Many other commentators have also been critical of the way the court has been handling several recent cases. There is no way the court can keep everyone happy with its decisions. If it is doing its job with honesty, it has no reason to be miffed with criticism for interpretation of the law is but a personal reading of the judge or judges based on the bare act and judicial precedents. Also, most daily newspapers were also critical of the Chief Justice when his picture on the motorbike first appeared.

As long as any criticism of a judgment, or judgments, does not attribute motives or cast aspersions on the judges, it should not be termed contemptuous. As different judges can interpret the same law differently, so different commentators can have their own take on judgments. The judges have to recognize this and be lenient for the reason of freedom of speech. If a narrow meaning is assigned to the contempt law it would stifle freedom of speech, the definition of which the Supreme Court has been trying to broaden in several recent judgments. The court has also not specified which of Prashant Bhushan's tweets it found to be contemptuous. A general and sweeping charge is itself bad in law.

Further, the court acted with unseemly haste in the Prashant Bhusan case. When this is juxtaposed with the delay in acting on several other cases of importance, it does not show the court in a good light. It sends the signal that while the court might take its own sweet time in other cases, it will dispense justice quickly if someone encroaches on its turf or as it said in Prashant Bhushan's case brings "the administration of justice in disrepute" or is "capable of undermining the dignity and authority of the institution".  There is no doubt that the system will collapse if motives are ascribed or aspersions are cast on those who dispense justice. But the judges need to take a broader view in the interest of freedom of speech and tolerate criticism as long as it is not mala fide.