Gripping arguments ensued on Wednesday in the 3-hour long hearing in the Supreme Court in the contempt case against Advocate Prashant Bhushan for his tweets about Chief Justice SA Bobde and the Judiciary before Supreme Court.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai & Krishna Murari heard Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave who appeared for Bhushan in the case. Dave's arguments' centripetal premise was whether Mr. Bhushan's tweets were contemptuous or not.
While doing so, Dave urged the Court to look at Bhushan's comments as fair criticism aimed at the betterment of the judiciary, with no malice as much, and without intention to bring any disrepute to the independence of judicial system. The crux of his arguments was that the effectiveness of the judiciary was actually on the decline, in light of several unfortunate circumstances and that, Bhushan's tweets should be understood in that context.
'Comments Were Not Out Of Malice; But Out Of Love & Affection For Court', Says Bhushan As SC Reserves Orders On Contempt Case
Dave: "People like Bhushan take up issues that many times the executive is not willing to do. Sure many of his petitions are dismissed, rightly so, that's for you to decide, but I beseech you to look at this. If Mr Bhushan was 'pro establishment' you would have given him Padma Vibushan for his work."
While referring to the statements made by Justices Madan B Lokur & Kurian Joseph at the press conference held by four sitting judges of the Supreme Court on January 12, 2018, Dave emphasised that criticism regarding judicial approach was not wholly unjustified.
In their statements, judges had stated, among other things, that the administration of the apex court was "not in order" and many "things less than desirable" were happening,
Dave: "Nothing wrong in not withholding views, when you feel that everything is not "hunky Dory" in SC. But can it be held to be contempt?"
Next, he talked about recent issues, which he contended had plagued the effectiveness of judiciary such as, its nonchalance on Article 370 cases, inaction in the habeas corpus pleas etc.
He said "anyone would be anguished" at such responses of the judiciary.
[PRASHANT BHUSHAN's PLEA AGAINST SUPREME COURT's SECRETARY GENERAL] Top Court to shortly hear Adv. Prashant Bhushan's plea against Secretary General for listing contempt plea filed against him on the judicial side sans consent of Attorney General@pbhushan1 #ContemptofCourt pic.twitter.com/NKwMCkOM8b— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) August 5, 2020
[PRASHANT BHUSHAN's PLEA AGAINST SUPREME COURT's SECRETARY GENERAL] Top Court to shortly hear Adv. Prashant Bhushan's plea against Secretary General for listing contempt plea filed against him on the judicial side sans consent of Attorney General@pbhushan1 #ContemptofCourt pic.twitter.com/NKwMCkOM8b
Dave then said that SC's handling of the sexual harassment case against the Ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi left a bad impression on the institution.
Dave: "Look at the case against him. She(the complainant) was reinstated and all charges were dropped. It 𝗰𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗹𝘆 shows she was speaking the Truth. Was any contempt issued against her? What impression does it give? We must take up these serious issues. A judge sits on a Saturday in his own cause regarding sexual harassment"
He went on to state that that Justice Gogoi got a Rajya Sabha Seat and Z+ security soon after his retirement, which raised a question mark over decisions in cases such as Rafale, Ayodhya, CBI director etc.
Dave then said that the manner of allocation of cases to judges also raised sufficient grounds for criticism. He said that only some judges got to handle "politically sensitive" cases.
Dave: Why, for example, do only certain judges get politically sensitive matters? Justice Nariman for example -- he never gets assigned such matters!
Bhushan has filed a detailed reply affidavit to the contempt notice, stating that expression of bona fide opinion about the Court cannot amount to contempt.
Complete updates from the hearing may be read here.