The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear lawyer Prashant Bhushan petition to defer the hearing on his sentence The apex court said that it will not hear the petition till Bhushan’s review petition against conviction for criminal contempt is filed and decided.
The three-judge bench of justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari said that the judgement is complete only after the sentence. It gave assurance to Prashant Bhushan that no punishment will be acted upon till his review against the order convicting him in the case is decided.
Bhushan had appealed to the Supreme Court to defer hearing on his punishment in a contempt of court case till the time his review petition against the August 14 conviction order is taken up.
During the hearing, Bhushan quoted Mahatma Gandhi and said he will not apologise for the two tweets and cheerfully accept the punishment that will be given to him by the SC for contempt.
Bhushan read out the written statement after the SC rejected his plea for deferment of hearing on the quantum of punishment for contempt.
Prasant Bhushan said.
“I believe that open criticism is necessary to safeguard democracy and its values. My tweets are attempts to discharge my duties, not else. My tweets need to be seen as an attempt for working for the betterment of the institution,”
“I am here, therefore, to cheerfully submit to any penalty that can lawfully be inflicted upon me for what the court has determined to be an offence, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen”.
The SC bench headed by Justice Mishra told Bhushan if you do not balance your comments, then you will destroy the institution, and the court does not punish for contempt so easily. “Balancing has to be there; restraint has to be there. There is a Lakshman Rekha for everything. Why should you cross the Rekha?” said Justice Mishra.
Justice Mishra said the court welcomes pursuing good cases in public interest. “I haven’t convicted anyone of contempt in over 20 years as a judge. This is my first such order,” said Justice Mishra.
The SC said it will give 2-3 days time to Prashant Bhushan to think over and consider modification to his “defiant” statement refusing to apologise and “cheerfully” accepting punishment.
Reacting to this,Prashant Bhushan said he can consult his lawyers but added: “I am sorry there will not be any substantial change”.
The SC bench again said it will be better if he reconsidered and modified his statement. This time, Bhushan agreed to think over it in 2-3 days time.
Earlier, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said the SC’s August 14 judgment convicting Prashant Bhushan was a cut-paste job from earlier judgments. “It will be severely criticised when it reaches academia,” Dhavan said.
the SC bench observed
“We welcome criticism of our judgments”