After the Supreme Court bench led by Justice Arun Mishra issued contempt of court notice to Advocate Prashant Bhushan for his tweets critiquing the judiciary, twitter has withheld the two impugned tweets by the advocate.
The apex court had considered the two tweets as “bringing disrepute to the administration of justice” by the counsel.
The tweet posted by Adv. Prashant Bhushan on June 29 stated:
“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!”
Further, the three-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari noted the tweet that was posted on June 27 stated:
“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.”
As per Twitter’s policy and guidelines when a tweet is withheld it is usually after a court order or a legal action.
A notice of contempt in that case has been issued to Twitter Inc
Representing Twitter, Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, clarified in Court that Twitter only deletes a tweet if there is a court order and in this case the protocol after the notice was to inform Twitter Inc about the impugned tweets.
Senior Advocate Poovayya explained the legal position that “withholding tweets” does not mean “deletion of tweets”
Senior Advocate Poovayya‘s said,
Supreme Court of India had taken suo moto cognizance of the tweets by Advocate Bhushan on July 22 for being contemptuous in nature. The legal proposition is that when a court takes cognizance of a subject as contemptuous, it is a prima facie rendition that the matter is liable for contempt even if at the end of the trial no one is punished. So in this case by withholding the tweet, Twitter has kept the option open for either deleting the tweets or restoring them following a final decision by the court.
The apex court while issuing notice and taking up the matter suo motu noted that the tweets by the lawyer brought “disrepute” to the “administration of justice.”
SUPREME COURT ORDER
We are, prima facie, of the view that the aforesaid statements on Twitter have brought the administration of justice in disrepute and are capable of undermining the dignity and authority of the Institution of Supreme Court in general and the office of the Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of public at large. We take suo motu cognizance of the aforesaid tweet also apart from the tweet quoted above and suo motu register the proceedings.”
On July 9, Top Court registered a suo motu contempt case where Mahek Maheshwari, an advocate based in Guna, Madhya Pradesh, had filed a petition against Prashant Bhushan and Twitter India seeking contempt action against both the parties.