Two days before the deadline given by the Supreme Court to tender "unconditional apology" in the contempt case, Advocate Prashant Bhushan stressed on the need to speak truth to power and said that one should be prepared even to go to jail for that.
He was speaking at a Facebook Live session organized by the the Students Federation of India yesterday on the topic "Decoding Democracy".
"We are at a difficulty juncture of history. We have to understand the worst assault that our Republic has ever seen on every value of the Constitution. Every institution set up the Constitution is under attack. We need to resist that. There is a concerted attempt to convert India into a Hindu State. There is an attempt to prevent people from speaking up. We need to resist that. We need to speak out. We need to speak truth to power. And, in that process, if they try and victimize us, they try and jail us, we should be prepared to suffer that. If we are not prepared for that today or tomorrow, then there will be nothing left to fight for", Bhushan said.
These remarks indicate that he is unlikely to apologize before the Supreme Court in the ongoing contempt case.
On August 14, a 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court had held Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for his tweets against the SC and the Chief Justices of India.
During the hearing on the sentence held on August 20, Bhushan affirmed his comments and made a statement justifying his comments and expressed dismay at the Court verdict.
"My tweets were nothing but a small attempt to discharge what I considered to be my highest duty at this juncture in the history of our republic. I did not tweet in a fit of absence mindedness. It would be insincere and contemptuous on my part to offer an apology for the tweets that expressed what was and continues to be my bonafide belief. Therefore, I can only humbly paraphrase what the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi had said in his trial: I do not ask for mercy. I do not appeal to magnanimity. 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.", Bhushan said.
The bench was not appreciative of the statement and asked Bhushan if he would like to reconsider it. The bench also asked Attorney General about granting time to Bhushan to reconsider the statement. AG agreed that time can be given to him.
However, Bhushan stood by the statement and said that it was "well considered and well thought of". He said that granting time "will not serve any purpose" as "it was unlikely" that he will change it.
Nevertheless, the bench said that it will give him two or three days for him to reconsider the statement. The bench proceeding to hear Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan on behalf of Bhushan with respect to legal submissions regarding the sentence.
Justice Mishra remarked that the Court will have to consider if Bhushan's statement was "a defence or an aggravation".
"When it comes to sentencing, we can be lenient only when the person tenders apology and realizes the mistake in the real sense", the judge said.
After completing the hearing, the bench passed an order giving time to Bhushan till August 24 to tender unconditional apology, "if he desires". In case if he apologizes, the case will be considered on August 25.
Read the full statement made by Bhushan before the Court below :
"I Do Not Ask For Mercy, I Do Not Appeal to Magnanimity, I am Here To Cheerfully Submit to Any Penalty": Prashant Bhushan Tells SC Quoting Gandhiji