The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to Advocate Prashant Bhushan, asking him to show cause as to why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against him over his tweets on judiciary.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra stated that the Court has taken cognizance of a tweet made by Bhushan on June 27, which said :
"When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs"
The bench also said that it has received a complaint from an advocate about a tweet made by him on June 29 commenting on Chief Justice of India SA Bobde riding a Harley Davidson motor bike.
"This petition was placed before us by Administrative Side. After examining matter, matter is listed before court to pass appropriate orders", the bench observed.
The bench, also including Justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, issued notice to the Attorney General as well seeking his assistance in the matter.
The bench asked Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, who appeared for Twitter India, why Twitter has not disabled the tweets even after contempt proceedings were initiated.
The senior counsel replied that necessary instructions will be given to Twitter in that regard. He said that Twitter was not defending Bhushan's tweets. He added that Twitter Inc, California was that the proper party, instead of Twitter India.
The bench also mentioned in the order that "Times of India" had published Bhushan's tweet of June 27.
On June 29, Bhushan had tweeted, along with a photograph of CJI Bobde mounted over a Harley Davidson bike, as follows :
"CJI rides a 50 lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan, Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice!".
Following that ,an application was filed by one Mahek Maheswari on July 9, seeking to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against Bhushan and Twitter India over the tweet on CJI Bobde.
Maheswari, in his application, stated that the tweet was malafide and offensive, as the court was working even during the lockdown through virtual mode.
"...the remarks are too inhuman forgetting that how much the Hon'ble CJI and other Justices are stretching themselves to grant justice to the citizen that they allow hearing by Video Conferencing mode.They are not even enjoying vacations properly", the application stated.
The application alleged that the tweet was a "cheap publicity stunt" with an attempt to "spread hatred in the form of anti-India campaign."
It is further stated in the application that the tweet incited "feeling of no-confidence" among the public in the independence of judiciary and therefore amounted to "scandalizing the court", which attract criminal contempt under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
Action against Twitter India is sought on the ground that it has failed to block the tweet.
On July 21, the SC registered a suo moto criminal contempt case based on the application filed by Maheswari, which was considered today.