Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Monday filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its judgment in last month’s criminal contempt case, saying paying a token fine does not mean he had accepted the verdict.
“Just because I’m paying the fine does not mean I have accepted the verdict. We have filed a writ petition that there must be an appeal procedure created for conviction under contempt,” Prashant Bhushan told the media before submitting the fine.
The top court had held Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for two of his tweets and asked him to pay a token fine of Re 1. While sentencing him, the Supreme Court had told Bhushan to pay the fine by September 15, failing which he would have to undergo simple imprisonment for three months and would be debarred from practising before it for three years.
Prashant Bhushan also argues that while conviction and sentencing are “separate and independent stages of the criminal process”, he has the right to seek review of both judgments passed against him – one of conviction and the other on sentencing.
“Nothing in the constitutional or statutory law as it applies to this Hon’ble Court’s power of review limits this right,” the petition adds.
Asking for an open court hearing of the review petition, Bhushan states,
“In view of the sui generis nature of the proceedings under Article 129 for criminal contempt which is not committed ex facie curiae, a hearing in open court ought to be granted both on the question of admitting the present petition as well as on its merits.”
Citing the Supreme Court’s 1995 judgment in the case ofIn re Vinay Chandra Mishra, the petition says that the sui generis nature of the suo motu proceedings of the Supreme Court has been affirmed.
Bhushan says that the Supreme Court’s powers under Article 129 are also subject to due process requirements that flow from the Constitution. These powers, like any others, are not unregulated or unrestricted. The same has been recognized by the Apex Court in many of its judgments, the plea points out.
The role of the Attorney General is absolutely essential in a proceeding of Suo Motu Criminal Contempt as the Attorney General is the only independent mind that can throw light on if there is a any contempt at all, the court being the aggrieved party as also the adjudicator and the alleged contemnor being the defendant.”
The Plea stated,
As such, the fundamental rules of natural justice also stand violated in the judgment, given that the mandatory requirements under the Act and the complementary Rules were contravened.