Prashant Bhushan case: 'No contempt', say 41 practicing lawyers, urge SC to take 'corrective steps'

The lawyers also questioned the Supreme Court's 'utter disregard' about the presence of the Attorney General, a 'highly-respected lawyer of great eminence.'

FP Staff August 17, 2020 18:30:52 IST
Prashant Bhushan case: 'No contempt', say 41 practicing lawyers, urge SC to take 'corrective steps'

The Supreme Court's recent judgment in the Prashant Bhushan contempt case does not restore the authority of the court in the eyes of the public, but will instead discourage lawyers from being outspoken, 41 practicing lawyers have said in statement.

The statement said that while some of the signatories may be of "divergent views on the advisability and content of Mr. Prashant Bhushan's two tweets", they are "unanimously of the view that no contempt of court was intended or committed", according to a report by Moneycontrol.

According to News18, over half of the lawyers who signed the statement are senior advocates. The signatories include Raju Ramachandran and Darius Khambata, who have held the post of Additional Solicitor General in the past, and other senior lawyers such as Janak Dwarkadas, Navroz Seervai, Vrinda Grover and Dushyant Dave.

The lawyers, in their letter, also questioned the Supreme Court's 'utter disregard' about the presence of the Attorney General, a 'highly-respected lawyer of great eminence.'

The signatories further said, "We are of the firm view that the judgment must not be given effect to, until a larger bench, sitting in open court after the pandemic has the opportunity to review the standards of criminal contempt. We do believe that the Supreme Court will hear the Voice of the People expressed all round in the last 72 hours on the subject and take corrective steps to prevent miscarriage of justice and restore the confidence and respect that citizens have generally reposed in it."

The statement comes even as the Supreme Court on Monday said it would consider certain larger questions in a 2009 contempt case against Bhushan and journalist Tarun Tejpal.

The top court said it would like to hear arguments from the lawyers as to what should be the process which should be followed in contempt cases where allegations are being levelled against judges.

Meanwwhile, civil society organisation Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has also criticised the Supreme Court's judgment finding Bhushan guilty of contempt of court. The CHRI said that the verdict is a sign of the “current deterioration in the state of free speech in the country”, according to The Wire.

"Public confidence in the judiciary is built by securing the rights of people and not by using the law of contempt during a pandemic when the court’s functioning is anyway restricted, when other important matters are not heard, and holding a human rights defender like Prashant Bhushan guilty for exercising his freedom of expression,” the CHRI added.

With inputs from PTI

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