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Contempt of Court- Prashant Bhushan Moves Supreme Court Seeking Hearing On Plea For Intra-Court Appeal Before Review Petitions Are Adjudicated

Sanya Talwar
15 Dec 2020 1:54 PM GMT
Contempt of Court- Prashant Bhushan Moves Supreme Court Seeking Hearing On Plea For Intra-Court Appeal Before Review Petitions Are Adjudicated
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Advocate Prashant Bhushan has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction from the top court that the two plea's praying review of the orders of conviction for contempt of court be heard after the adjudication of the petition raising the issue of right of appeal.On August 14, 2020 the Supreme Court held Bhushan guilty of contempt of court in the suo moto contempt case taken against him over...

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Advocate Prashant Bhushan has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction from the top court that the two plea's praying review of the orders of conviction for contempt of court be heard after the adjudication of the petition raising the issue of right of appeal.

On August 14, 2020 the Supreme Court held Bhushan guilty of contempt of court in the suo moto contempt case taken against him over two of his tweets about the Chief Justice of India and the Supreme Court.

The instant application has been moved a day before the top court is expected to consider two of his plea's seeking review of the conviction. A three judge bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar is scheduled to hear it tomorrow in-chambers.

"That the instant writ petition has been filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India for the enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India seeking issuance of an appropriate writ, order or direction declaring that a person convicted in an original criminal contempt case by this Hon'ble Court would have a right to an intra-court appeal to be heard by a larger and different bench and for laying down rules and guidelines for the same OR in the alternative, an appropriate writ, order, or direction declaring that review petitions filed against orders of conviction by Supreme Court in original criminal contempt cases would be heard in open court by a different bench. That the existing Act and Rules, do not bar or prohibit the prayers as sought by the Petitioner," the plea reads.

Bhushan has averred in his application, filed through advocate Kamini Jaiswal that prayers made in the petition challenging his conviction, have "a direct bearing" on the review petitions filed by him.

He has stated that despite the application seeking urgent listing was filed on September 14 in the petition, the matter has not been listed before the court "whereas instant and connected review petitions have been suddenly listed for hearing on December 16, 2020".

"Right of Appeal is an absolute right according to Article 14(5) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which India has ratified and is therefore binding upon the Indian State. Under ICCPR, first appeal is a right even where trial is by the Highest Court and Review is not a substitute for an appeal," Bhushan extrapolates as one his grounds.

Further, Bhushan states that a larger question in the instant plea which arises is that there exists a need for important procedural safeguards when this Hon'ble Court considers cases of criminal contempt in original proceedings, i.e. those proceedings where this Hon'ble Court does not act as an appellate Court.

The petition states that the right of appeal is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution and is also guaranteed under international law and this would act as a "vital safeguard against wrongful conviction and would truly enable the provision of truth as a defence".

In his September 14 review petition, Mr. Bhushan had cited various instances suggesting that Justice Mishra's presence on the Bench raises a reasonable apprehension on his part of getting a "fair and impartial hearing".

In this background, the petitioner has sought issuance of an appropriate writ, order or direction declaring that a person convicted for criminal contempt by this Hon'ble Court, including the petitioner herein, would have a right to an intra-court appeal to be heard by a larger and different bench as well as framing rules and guidelines providing for intra-court appeal against conviction in original criminal contempt cases.

Alternatively, the petitioner has sought issuance of an appropriate writ, order, or direction declaring that review petitions filed against orders of conviction by Supreme Court in original criminal contempt cases would be heard in open court by a different bench.


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