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Law

Supreme Court to Hear 2009 Contempt Case Against Prashant Bhushan on Merits

"We need to check whether statements made regarding corruption amounts to contempt of court. Thus we need to hear the matter," the bench said.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Monday that it will be conducting a detailed hearing on the contempt of court case filed against advocate and activist Prashant Bhushan in 2009. The order was passed by a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, A.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari.

“We need to check whether statements made regarding corruption amounts to contempt of court. Thus we need to hear the matter,” the bench said, according to Bar and Bench. The case will be heard from August 17.

The case pertains to remarks Bhushan made in 2009 about former Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia and K.G. Balakrishnan in an interview to Tehelka magazine. He reportedly also said that half of the preceding 16 CJIs were corrupt; an allegation, according to the complaint, that Bhushan said he had no evidence for.

The Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of the issue after a complaint was filed by advocate Harish Salve. Former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal was also named in the case. On November 10, 2010, a three-judge bench held that the petition was maintainable. Since then, however, the case has been heard only 17 times.

Also read: In Prashant Bhushan’s Contempt Case, an Issue of Procedural Fairness Comes to the Fore

When the case was listed for hearing again recently, the bench said it wanted to put an end to the matter to protect the dignity of the court and its judges. It asked the parties involved to apologise. Bhushan said while he would not apologise, he issued a statement on the matter. His statement read:

“In my interview to Tehelka in 2009 I have used the word corruption in a wide sense meaning lack of propriety. I did not mean only financial corruption or deriving any pecuniary advantage. If what I have said caused hurt to any of them or to their families in any way, I regret the same. I unreservedly state that I support the institution of the judiciary and especially the Supreme Court of which I am a part, and had no intention to lower the prestige of the judiciary in which I have complete faith. I regret if my interview was misunderstood as doing so, that is, lower the reputation of the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, which could never have been my intention at all.”

On August 4, the bench had said, “In case we do not accept the explanation/apology, we will hear the matter. We reserve the order.” It appears that the bench has not accepted Bhushan’s explanation on the matter.

Also read: In SC’s Dealings With Prashant Bhushan Over Contempt, Shades of Arundhati Roy’s Case

Another contempt of court case against Prashant Bhushan is also being heard by the same Supreme Court bench at the moment, regarding two of the advocates tweet. In this case too, the court took suo motu cognisance of the matter after a complaint filed by one Mahek Maheshwari.

Bhushan’s lawyer, advocate Dushyant Dave, has said that the social media comments Bhushan had made were not born out of malice, but from the notion that the court should be stronger.