In thesuomotu contempt proceedings initiated by the Supreme Court, Eight more retired judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts have expressed their solidarity for Advocate Prashant Bhushan.
Now a total of ten former judges support Prashant Bhushan.
Earlier, 131 persons from civil society had issued a statement in solidarity with Prashant Bhushan which included former judges, activists, political leaders, academicians etc.
Former Supreme Court judge, Justice Madan Lokur and former Delhi High Court Judge Justice AP Shah are also a part of the list.
Now, the statement issigned by the following retired judges:
Justice Ruma Pal, former judge of the Supreme Court of India
Justice GS Singhvi, former judge of the Supreme Court of India
Justice Ashok K Ganguly, former judge of the Supreme Court of India
Justice Gopala Gowda, former judge of the Supreme Court of India
Justice AftabAlam, former judge of the Supreme Court of India
Justice JastiChelameswar, former judge of the Supreme Court of India
Justice Vikramjit Sen, former judge of the Supreme Court of India
Justice Anjana Prakash, former judge of the Patna High Court
Recently,on a complaint filed against the lawyer for publishing tweets which allegedly “brought disrepute” to the institution of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court issued notice to Bhushan, Twitter as well as Attorney General for India KK Venugopal. The statement expressed that initiation of these proceedings appears to be an attempt to stifle criticism of the judiciary.
The Supreme Court has been urged by the signatories to reconsider initiation of contempt proceedings against Bhushan and that criticism against the judiciary must not be stifled and this principle is well recognized by the Supreme Court itself.
The statement read,
“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.”
An institution like the Supreme Court must be open to public discussion without the people fearing retribution or criminal proceedings against them, the statement reads. It is also highlighted that criminal contempt of Court, as an offence, has been rendered redundant in many democracies including the USA and the UK.
The statement noted that the tweets raise genuine concerns which are echoed by many people which led to the contempt proceedings against Bhushan.
The signatories add that the Court shouldaddress the grievances raised therein, in fact,
“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 Bhushan but by all stakeholders in the Indian democratic and constitutional setup. We believe the institution must address these genuine concerns.”
Bhushan, in his individual capacity, has been a “crusader” for many causes, the signatories go on to say. They add that the reluctance of the Court to undertake its constitutionally mandated role in the recent migrant worker crisis issue is something that was felt not only by Bhushan, but many others. Retribution meted out to Bhushan is a way of stifling criticism and this action must be reconsidered.
In addition to the ten retired judges, many lawyers, academicians, activists, former bureaucrats, and members of civil society have signed this statement.