The Supreme Court has initiated suo motu criminal contempt proceedings against activist advocate Prashant Bhushan for accusing past four CJIs playing a role in the SC caused destruction of democracy during an undeclared emergency during the last six years.
The SC has also taken adverse note of Bhushan's tweets accusing the present CJI of closing the SC during lockdown and denying common men their fundamental right to access to justice. His critical tweet was made on photographs showing CJI sitting on a parked heavy bike at Nagpur last month. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari are scheduled to take up the suo motu criminal contempt petition against Bhushan on Wednesday.
On June 27, Bhushan at 8.25 am had tweeted: "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."
His June 29 tweet at 11.37 am had posted the CJI's photograph on a Harley Davidson bike that could be seen stationary with its parking stand on. He had tweeted: "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!"
What the court appears to have taken strong objection to is the statement that CJI has kept the SC in lockdown mode when in reality the SC was carrying out its work of hearing cases, both fresh and pending matters, regularly through video conferencing. The court also found it rather denigrating to be accused by a lawyer that common men's right to access to justice has been denied, when the SC during the lockdown period has heard numerous PILs filed by non-lawyers on issues relating to lockdown as well as other issues.
Interestingly, the same bench is also scheduled to hear on Wednesday a contempt proceeding drawn by SC in 2010 against Bhushan for his interview to Tehelka magazine alleging at that point of time that half of the 16 former CJIs were corrupt. He had also made certain uncharitable comments against then CJI S H Kapadia. The contempt proceedings were initiated on an application moved by senior advocate Harish Salve on the ground that speaking against CJIs without evidence was denigrating the dignity of the judiciary in the eyes of the public.
During the hearing of the contempt proceedings, Bhushan's then counsel Ram Jethmalani had on march 25, 2010 clarified before a bench of Justices Altamas Kabir, Cyriac Joseph and H L Dattu that Bhushan had highest regard for Justice Kapadia and he meant no disrespect to Justice Kapadia by his statements published in media with regard to Sterlite Case.
On July 14, 2010, the three-judge bench had ruled that the contempt proceedings drawn against Bhushan were maintainable. But, for all these years, the proceedings had remained static for one reason or the other.
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