People from civil society including former Judges, activists, political leaders, academicians etc. in view of thesuomotu contempt of Court proceedings have issued a statement in solidarity with Advocate Prashant Bhushan.
Recently, pursuant to a complaint,a notice by was sent by the Supreme Court to Prashant Bhushan, Twitter as well as Attorney General for India KK Venugopal. This is in regard to Bhushan publishing tweets which allegedly “brought disrepute” to the institution of the Supreme Court. Initiation of these proceedings appears to be an attempt to stifle criticism of the judiciary, notified the statement.
The signatories urged that the contempt proceedings against Bhushan must be reconsidered by the Court. The solidarity statement adds that the criticism against the Judiciary must not be stifled and this principle is well recognized by the Supreme Court itself. The statement reads,
“In the interest of justice and fairness and to maintain the dignity of the Supreme Court of India, we urge the Court to reconsider its decision to initiate suo-moto contempt proceedings against Mr. Prashant Bhushan and to withdraw the same at the earliest.”
The Supreme Court must be open to public discussion without the people fearing retribution or criminal proceedings against them. This statement expressesthat criminal contempt of Court, as an offence, has been rendered redundant in many democracies including the USA and the UK.
The tweets raised genuine concerns which were noticed by many people and that the Court should, in fact, address the grievances rose therein,
“We urge the Hon’ble judges of the Supreme Court to take note of these concerns and engage with the public in an open and transparent manner. The initiation of contempt proceedings against Mr. Bhushan who had articulated some of these concerns in his tweets, appears to be an attempt at stifling such criticism, not just by Prashant Bhushanbut by all stakeholders in the Indian democratic and constitutional setup. We believe the institution must address these genuine concerns.”
The signatories went on to say that Bhushan, in his individual capacity has been a “crusader” for many causes and that the reluctance of the Court to undertake its constitutionally mandated role in the recent migrant worker crisis issue is something that was felt by many others too. The action of stifling criticism must be reconsidered, the statement highlighted.
Justice (retd.) Madan Lokur, Justice (retd.) AP Shah, retired bureaucrats, activists like Aakar Patel, Arundhati Roy, Anjali Bhardwaj, Beswada Wilson, MedhaPatkar, Harsh Mander, JagdeepChhokar, TeestaSetalvad, Lawyers like Anand Grover, CU Singh, Gopal Sankaranarayanan, Indira Jaising, Mihir Desai, Vrinda Grover, politicians likle D Raja, Brinda Karat, Economist Jean Dreze, former LG of Delhi Najeeb Jung, Former CICs WajahatHabibullah and Shailesh Gandhi are among many people who signed the solidarity statement.
131 people have signed the statement.
Read the Statement: