SC's judgment on Prashant Bhushan contempt case 'weakens' constitutional democracy, says Sitaram Yechury

Earlier on Friday, the SC held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for two tweets against the judiciary, saying they cannot be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary

Press Trust of India August 14, 2020 22:32:06 IST
SC's judgment on Prashant Bhushan contempt case 'weakens' constitutional democracy, says Sitaram Yechury

The Supreme Court judgement on Friday holding activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his tweets has weakened India's Constitutional democracy, alleged CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

The Supreme Court held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his two "derogatory" tweets against the judiciary saying they cannot be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary made in the public interest.

Holding that Bhushan attempted to scandalise the entire institution of the Supreme Court, the top court 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."

"Whether one agrees with the precise formulation of Mr Prashant Bhushan's tweets or not, the Supreme Court Jujdgement convicting him of Contempt is alarming. It brings into the ambit of Contempt, bona-fide criticism of the role played by Supreme Court as a Constitutional authority," Yechury said.

"The judgment will prevent open and free discussion on the role of the Supreme Court in India's democracy. This weakens India's Constitutional democracy," he said in a series of tweets.

He also said that the judgement also brings within its scope, genuine criticism of its present day functioning and approach.

"Hitherto, such statements were protected speech under Article 19 (1)(a) under the Constitution and were not considered contemptuous," he said.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari 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.

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