The Supreme Court Tuesday said it has not received the apology submitted by lawyer Prashant Bhushan so far and reserved the order in a 2009 contempt case against him.
A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari said: “We have heard counsel for the parties at some length. Explanation/apology submitted by respondents Prashant Bhushan and Tarun Tejpal have not been received so far.”
The bench added: “In case we do not accept the explanation/apology, we will hear the matter. We reserve the order.”
Earlier during the day, taking up the 2009 contempt of court case against lawyer Prashant Bhushan, the apex court had said that there is a thin line between free speech and contempt, adding that the issue now is about how to save the system’s grace and bring the matter to an end as well.
The bench asked senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing Bhushan, to suggest ways to resolve this matter. Justice Mishra told Dhavan: “Can you suggest some way to avoid this rigmarole? You can resolve it.” In response, Dhavan said that Bhushan had already provided an explanation on the matter.
The brief hearing was held through videoconference, the link to which was later not available to mediapersons. But before that happened, the bench had asked Dhavan for a solution to the case.
The contempt case pertains to Prashant Bhushan’s comments on the judiciary during an interview to the Tehelka magazine in 2009.
In the previous hearing on the matter, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Tarun Tejpal from Tehelka magazine, had submitted that since the last hearing was held in 2012 he was yet to go through the documents in the case.
In response, Justice Mishra had replied that the court would have to resume the hearing. When Sibal pleaded that he needed time to prepare, Justice Mishra said the court would give him enough time for the purpose.
Dhavan too had said that time was required to go through the records and prepare for the hearing. He pointed out that senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who appeared for Bhushan earlier, had passed away last year.
Incidentally, the same bench has also issued notice to Prashant Bhushan on July 22 in a suo motu case taken up by the apex court over his two tweets in connection with the higher judiciary. This matter is listed for hearing on Wednesday.