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Supreme Court Issued Notice On Prashant Bhushan's Plea Seeking Intra Court Appeal Before Adjudication Of Review Petitions In Contempt Of Court Matters

Sohini Chowdhury
18 May 2022 6:19 AM GMT
Supreme Court Issued Notice On Prashant Bhushans Plea Seeking Intra Court Appeal Before Adjudication Of Review Petitions In Contempt Of Court Matters

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, issued notice in a plea for intra court appeal before adjudication of review petitions in Contempt of Court matters. The Apex Court issued the notice to the Attorney General, Mr. K.K. Venugopal as he had assisted it in the suo moto contempt case against Advocate, Mr. Prashant Bhushan over two of his tweets about the Apex Court and the then Chief Justice of India.

"Issue notice returnable on 27.09.2022. Since the Attorney General (AG) assisted the court on previous occasion, considering facts and circumstances on record we issue notice to the AG for final disposal of the matter."

On 14.08.2020, the Apex Court had held Mr. Bhushan guilty of contempt. In the review petition, filed by him he 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 the light of the same, the present writ petition has been filed raising a larger question regarding the need for important procedural safeguards in cases of criminal contempt in original proceedings. The writ petition has asserted that the right of appeal is protected by the Constitution as a fundamental right as well as under international law. It avers that the intra-court appeal would act as a vital safeguard against wrongful conviction and would truly enable the provision of truth as a defence.

The petition seeks issuance of an appropriate writ, order or direction declaring that a person convicted for criminal contempt by the Apex Court, would have a right to an intra-court appeal to be heard by a larger and different bench as well as directions regarding framing of rules and guidelines providing for intra-court appeal against conviction in original criminal contempt cases.

On the last date of hearing as the matter came up before the Bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit, citing his involvement as Amicus Curiae in one of the Tehelka Contempt matter, which was referred to in the present petition, Justice Lalit offered to recuse from hearing the petition. Senior Advocate, Mr. Rajeev Dhavan appearing for Mr. Bhushan stated that the Tehelka matter was not related to the core issue in the present petition and no such recusal would be necessary. An affidavit was filed by the petitioner in this regard. Considering that the affidavit did not object to the matter being hearing by the Bench headed by Justice Lalit, on Tuesday, a Bench comprising Justices U.U. Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia decided to go ahead with the matter. It noted -

"Pursuant to certain apprehensions expressed on the last occasion, the affidavit has been placed on record by petition. Since no reservations or objections have been expressed through the affidavit, we proceed with the matter."

It further directed -

"(Other) Writ petitions shall be taken up with the present writ. The application seeking extension of time to surrender is accepted and time is extended till 15.10.2022."

Justice Lalit asked Mr. Dhavan if his primary submission was that the Bench deciding the contempt matter should not be the one deciding the review. Agreeing to the same, Mr. Dhavan stated that otherwise it would not be proper. He referred to an UK judgment in this regard and assured the Bench that he would file the compilation of relevant judgments before the next date of hearing.

Case Title: Prashant Bhushan Versus Union Of India And Anr.| W.P.(C) No. 1053/2020 and connected petitions

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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