The Supreme Court on Friday held advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt in a case registered against him over two of his tweets. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said the court will hear the arguments on the quantum of punishment on August 20.
The senior lawyer can be punished with a simple imprisonment for a term which may extend up to six months or with a fine of up to Rs 2,000 or with both.
On June 29, Bhushan had tweeted on a photo of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde astride a Harley Davidson motorcycle. While taking up the matter for hearing, the bench, which also comprised of Justice B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, took note of another tweet by the advocate on June 27 regarding the judiciary which it said was published in The Times of India.
On August 5, the top court had reserved its verdict in the matter after Bhushan had defended his posts on the micro-blogging site. The lawyer said the posts were against the judges regarding their conduct in their personal capacity and they did not obstruct administration of justice. Read in Bangla and Malayalam here.
On July 22, the top court issued a show cause notice to the lawyer after initiating the criminal contempt against him, saying that the tweets had “brought the administration of justice in disrepute”.
The bench had also added Twitter India as a party to the matter. Appearing for Twitter, senior advocate Sajan Poovayya submitted that “Twitter Inc., California, USA is the correct description on which the tweets were made” by Bhushan and urged the court to replace Twitter India with it.
He said Twitter had nothing to defend and will act if the court directs it to disable the tweet identified by the Registry. He said Twitter cannot disable a tweet without the court’s order.
Currently, Bhushan is appearing in the Supreme Court for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, seeking transfer of PM Cares funds to the National Disaster Response Fund. He also represents the Association for Democratic Reforms in a petition challenging the Electoral Bond Scheme.
What is Contempt of Court?
According to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, contempt of court can either be civil contempt or criminal contempt. Civil contempt means wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court. On the other hand, criminal contempt means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which
(i) scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or
(ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
A contempt of court may be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both, provided that the accused may be discharged or the punishment awarded may be remitted on apology being made to the satisfaction of the court.