Prashant Bhushan Pays Re 1 Fine, Files Review Petition Against SC's Contempt Judgment

Bhushan also said that the contributions he had received from various quarters across the country towards this token fine will go into building a 'truth fund' to support those hounded by the state over dissent.

New Delhi: Advocate and rights activist Prashant Bhushan, on Monday, deposited at the Supreme Court Registry, the Re 1 fine that the apex court had imposed on him after finding him guilty of contempt of court over two tweets.

On August 31, the bench led by Justice Arun Mishra had held that Bhushan would be jailed for three months and barred from practising for three years if he failed to pay this fine by September 15.

LiveLaw has reported that Bhushan spoke to reporters before entering the Registry. He said, as he had done on the day of sentencing, that payment of the fine did not indicate that he had accepted the Supreme Court’s judgment on the matter. “I am filing a review petition in the court today,” he said.

The bench, also comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari had reserved its judgment on August 25, after asking Bhushan multiple times to apologise for his tweets.

Also read: Supreme Court, Prashant Bhushan and the Sentence Conundrum

Bhushan said he could not, in good faith, apologise, since he believed he had done nothing wrong, and his criticism was constitutional and valid. The bench was not satisfied with this response, with Justice Mishra saying, “Tell us what is wrong in using the word ‘apology’? What is wrong in seeking apology? Will that be reflection of the guilty? Apology is a magical word, which can heal many things.”

In a fresh plea filed through lawyer Kamini Jaiswal on Saturday, September 12, Bhushan had sought a declaration that a “person convicted for criminal contempt by this court, including the petitioner herein, would have a right to an intra-court appeal to be heard by a larger and different bench”.

Also read: Prashant Bhushan’s Petition Seeks Intra-Court Appeal in SC in Criminal Contempt Cases

Bhushan, in the plea, suggested procedural changes to reduce the chances of “arbitrary, vengeful and high-handed decisions” in criminal contempt cases saying that in such cases the top court is the aggrieved party, the “prosecutor, the witness and the judge” and hence they raise fear of inherent bias.

The petition said the right of appeal is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution and is also guaranteed under international law and this would act as a “vital safeguard against wrongful conviction and would truly enable the provision of truth as a defence”.

‘Truth fund’

On Monday, Bhushan also said that the contributions he had received from various quarters across the country towards this token fine will go into building a ‘truth fund’ that will help provide legal aide to those who have been detained, arrested or jailed over voicing dissent.

“The state is using all means to silence voices of dissent. The ‘truth fund’ will be used to protect the personal liberty to those persons who face the state’s persecution,” Bhushan was quoted by LiveLaw as having said.

The activist also spoke with concern on the arrest of activist and JNU scholar Umar Khalid in connection with the Delhi riots late on Sunday.