Why Wait for Formal Order, Can't You Take Bhushan Tweets Down on Your Own, SC Asks Twitter

The bench has identified two tweets that it alleges are contemptuous.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to attorney general for India K.K. Venugopal and advocate Prashant Bhushan on the contempt proceedings against the lawyer for his tweets. On Tuesday, the apex court had begun suo motu contempt proceedings.

The apex court directed that Twitter Inc be made a party, instead of Twitter India, and asked the US-based firm to file a response in the matter. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra was told by Twitter’s counsel that if the top court directs, then they would disable the alleged contemptuous tweets of Bhushan.

“Why can’t you do it on your own? Even after we have initiated the contempt proceedings, do you want to wait for a formal order? We think we won’t pass any order and will leave it your wisdom,” the bench told senior lawyer Sajan Povvayya, who appeared for Twitter, according to News18.

The bench, which asked the attorney general to assist in the matter, has set August 5 as the date for the hearing.

Also read: Eight Highlights of Petition Seeking Contempt Action Against Prashant Bhushan, Twitter

The allegedly contemptuous tweets were critical of the top court and posted by Bhushan on Twitter on June 27 and June 29. The June 27 tweet said, “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.”

This tweet, the bench said in its order, had also been published by the Times of India.

The June 29 tweet included a photo of CJI S.A. Bobde riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and said, “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!”

According to LiveLaw, the top court stated that it is of the prima facie view that the statements brought the administration of justice “in disrepute and are capable of undermining the dignity and authority of the Institution of Supreme Court in general and the office of the Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of public at large”.

The latter tweet was mentioned by one Mahek Maheshwari, who filed an application against Bhushan for alleged contempt on June 9. Maheshwari claimed that this tweet was malafide and offensive, particularly since the Supreme Court judges had worked through the lockdown.

He also called Bhushan’s tweet a “cheap stunt” and held Twitter India accountable for not taking it down. The petition also referred to Bhushan’s interventions in the court on behalf of migrant workers during the lockdown, when Justices Kaul and Gavai had accused the lawyer of not having “faith in the institution”.

(With PTI inputs)