Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was held guilty of contempt, has refused to apologize to the Supreme Court. In a supplementary affidavit filed on August 24, Bhushan indicated that he stood by what he said. Any apology "would be insincere" and retraction of his statement would be a "contempt" to his "conscience", Bhushan said.
Bhushan said that his tweets "represented this bonafide belief" that he continues to hold. "Public expression of these beliefs was I believe, in line with my higher obligations as a citizen and a loyal officer of this court. Therefore, an apology for expression of these beliefs, conditional or unconditional, would be insincere," he added. "If I retract a statement before this court that I otherwise believe to be true or offer an insincere apology, that in my eyes would amount to the contempt of my conscience and of an institution that I hold in the highest esteem," the supplementary statement read.
"I believe that the SC is the last bastion of hope for the protection of fundamental rights, the watchdog institutions and indeed for constitutional democracy itself. It has rightly been called the most powerful court in the democratic world. Today in these troubling times, the hopes of the people of India vest in this Court to ensure the rule of law and the Constitution and not an untrammeled rule of the executive," Bhushan said. "When there's a deviation, This casts a duty...to speak up...," he added.
Not asking for Mercy, Cheerfully submit to penalty
On August 20, while hearing arguments on sentencing, the bench led by Justice Arun Mishra advised Bhushan to take "two to three days" to reconsider the statement he made during the hearing on sentencing. At the time, Bhushan had said, "The statement I made was well-considered and thought out. It is unlikely there shall be a change. I don't want to waste your time."
Paraphrasing Mahatma Gandhi's submission from his 1922 sedition trial, Bhushan had said that he was not asking for "mercy" and he would "cheerfully submit to any penalty that can lawfully be inflicted" for "what the Court has determined to be an offence, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen."
Attorney General KK Venugopal, who also participated in the proceedings, had observed that Bhushan must not be punished.
The top court is likely to pronounce the sentence in Bhushan's case soon.
Tweets "false, malicious and scandalous"
On August 14, the Supreme Court held Bhushan in criminal contempt over two tweets—published in July—which it found "false, malicious and scandalous". The top court had initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against Bhushan observing that his tweets brought "the administration of justice in disrepute" and were "capable of undermining the dignity and authority" of the Institution and the office of the Chief Justice of India "in particular…".
The top court was hearing at least two cases of contempt against the activist lawyer. The second case against Bhushan is a suo moto contempt against Bhushan about an 11-year-old interview in Tehelka where the senior lawyer alleged corruption in the higher judiciary including half of 16 CJIs.
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