Prashant Bhushan contempt case: Will ‘respectfully’ pay Re 1 fine, reserve right to file review, says activist-lawyer

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Issuing the verdict, the Bench told him to submit the fine by 15 September, failing which he will be may be sent to prison for three months and be debarred from practicing law for three years

Hours after the Supreme Court asked Prashant Bhushan to pay a token fine of Re 1 in the contempt case against him, the activist-lawyer said that he will “respectfully” pay the fine, and added that his tweets weren’t intended to disrespect the apex court or the Chief Justice of India.

Addressing a press conference, Bhushan also said that he will consider filing a review plea against the order. “I reserve my right to file review, I propose to submit to the order and respectfully pay the fine as directed by the court,” he said.

“My tweets were not intended to disrespect the Supreme Court but were meant to express my anguish at what I felt was deviation from its sterling record… This is a watershed moment for freedom of speech and seems to have encouraged many people to speak out against injustices,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

“My lawyer and senior colleague Rajiv Dhavan contributed Re 1 immediately after the contempt judgement today which I gratefully accepted,” he added.

Bhushan was also quoted by NDTV as saying that he “had always believed the Supreme Court is the last bastion of hope for the weak and oppressed”.

Issuing the verdict in the case on Monday, the Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra told him to submit the fine by 15 September, failing which he will be may be sent to prison for three months and be debarred from practicing law for three years, reports said.

In the verdict, the Bench noted, “The freedom of speech cannot be curtailed but rights of others need to be respected.”

On 14 August, the Constitution Bench had held Bhushan guilty over two tweets posted on 29 June and had convicted him for contempt of court. The court heard arguments for sentencing on 20 August and reserved its judgement on 25 August.

In the hearing of the matter on 25 August, Attorney General KK Venugopal had urged the court to let Bhushan off with a reprimand. He had also pointed out the work done by him in the field of public interest litigations.

Meanwhile, senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, who argued for Bhushan, urged the Court to show “judicial statesmanship” and “not make him a martyr” by sending him to prison. Dhavan had argued that a statesman-like message should be sent, like “Mr Bhushan though we disagree with many things, but from next time you should be more responsible”.

With inputs from agencies

 

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