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SC Dismisses Prashant Bhushan's Petition Challenging Registry's Handling Of Contempt Complaint

5 Aug 2020 1:53 PM GMT
SC Dismisses Prashant Bhushans Petition Challenging Registrys Handling Of Contempt Complaint
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the writ petition filed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan against Secretary General of SC alleging procedural irregularities in accepting the contempt petition without the sanction of Attorney General. The petition had sought the recall of contempt notice.

A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari summarily dismissed the petition, without assigning reasons

"We do not find any ground to entertain this writ petition, which is, accordingly, dismissed", said the order passed by the bench.

Appearing for Bhushan, Dushyant Dave, Senior Advocate, stated that the complaint filed by one Advocate Mahek Maheshwari, which sought contempt action against Bhushan, was defective as it was not accompanied with the sanction of the Attorney General as mandated by Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971 and Rule 3(c) of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court 1975.

Therefore, the Secretary-General erred in accepting the defective complaint, and in putting up the same before the judicial side.

He contended that by taking suo moto cognizance on Maheshwari's complaint, the SC dispensed with the statutory requirement of taking the consent of the Attorney General or the Solicitor General, and thereby did "indirectly what the Court could not have directly".

Further, it was contended that the Secretary-General committed illegality by placing the complaint directly before the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, as the 'Master of the Roster' is the Chief Justice of India.

Dave added that the initiation of contempt proceedings in disregard of the established procedure amounts to violation of the right to personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.

"Before proceedings, AG must give consent. In this case, you have asked the AG to assist court after taking Suo Motu Cognisance", Dave submitted.

In response, Justice Arun Mishra said that the Court has taken the contempt case suo moto and not on the basis of the complaint. The judge added that the issue was already settled by the precedent P N Duda vs P Shiv Shanker, holding that consent of the AG was not required for the Court to set off contempt action suo moto, even if a complaint seeking to initiate contempt action is on record.

Replying to this, Dave said, "Suo motu means that your lordships should take it up on their own. Not that an Advocate (Advocate Mehek Maheshwari) moves a plea and you take it up".

"What's the point of asking AG to be here when your lordships have recorded prima facie findings?", he asked.

Clarifying how the complaint was placed on the judicial side, Justice Arun Mishra said :

"It was placed on the administrative side as per Duda decision (P N Duda vs P Shiv Shanker). CJI could not come to a decision, hence it was placed before Ramana J on the administrative side. Ramana J decided that this matter should be brought to the judicial side, therefore it came before all of us"

The bench also heard the suo moto contempt case taken against Bhushan over two of his tweets about CJI and the Supreme Court and reserved orders.

From the hearing :

'Comments Were Not Out Of Malice; But Out Of Love & Affection For Court', Says Bhushan As SC Reserves Orders On Contempt Case

'Why Only Certain Judges Get Politically Sensitive Matters?' : Dave Raises Points Of Criticism Against SC In Prashant Bhushan Contempt Case

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