On Monday, the Supreme Court issued notice to Advocate Prashant Bhushan, as to why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against him over his tweets on judiciary.
Noting by the Bench
The Court through the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra has taken cognizance of a tweet made by Prashant Bhushan on June 27 which said:
“When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs”
The bench also expressed that a complaint has been received from an advocate about a tweet made by Prashant Bhushan commenting on Chief Justice of India SA Bobde riding a Harley Davidson motor bike on June 29.
Observations by the bench
The bench observed that “This petition was placed before us by Administrative Side. After examining matter, matter is listed before court to pass appropriate orders.”
The bench including Justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, issued notice to the Attorney General seeking his assistance in the matter.
The bench questionedSenior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, representingTwitter India, as to why Twitter has not disabled the tweets even after contempt proceedings were initiated.
The senior counsel responded that necessary instructions will be given to Twitter in the matter. He added that Twitter Inc, California was that the proper party, instead of Twitter India in the case.
The bench also observed that Prashant Bhushan’s tweet of June 27 was published by “Times of India“.
On June 29, a photograph of CJI Bobde mounted over a Harley Davidson bike was tweeted by Bhushan with the caption as follows:
“CJI rides a 50 lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan, Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice!.”
On July 9an application was filed by one Mahek Maheswari following the incident over the tweet on CJI Bobde seeking to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against Bhushan and Twitter India.
In his application, Maheswari stated that the tweet was malafide and offensive, as the court was working even during the lockdown through virtual mode.
“…the remarks are too inhuman forgetting that how much the Hon’ble CJI and other Justices are stretching themselves to grant justice to the citizen that they allow hearing by Video Conferencing mode.They are not even enjoying vacations properly.”
The application mentioned that the tweet was a “cheap publicity stunt” as an attempt to “spread hatred in the form of anti-India campaign.”
The Application stated that the action attracts criminal contempt under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 as the tweet incited “feeling of no-confidence” among the public in the independence of judiciary and therefore amounted to “scandalizing the court.”
Action against Twitter India is sought on the ground that it has failed to block the tweet.
The SC registered a suo moto criminal contempt case based on Maheswari’s application on July 21 and considered it for hearing today.