The Supreme Court on Monday refused to accept advocate Prashant Bhushan’s explanation in the contempt case against him from 2009, Live Law reported. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said further hearing in the case was required before a judgement is passed.
“Before reaching any finding whether explanation will suffice, the matter will need to be heard,” Mishra said. The bench listed the matter for August 17.
The case involves Bhushan’s interview to Tehelka magazine 11 years ago, in 2009, in which he had made allegations of corruption in the Supreme Court and said half of the previous 16 chief justices were corrupt. The contempt of court case was filed by advocate Harish Salve.
On August 4, a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari had reserved orders on whether to accept Bhushan’s explanation and said it would proceed to hear the case in detail only if they found his arguments acceptable. The top court told Bhushan that there was a “thin line” between contempt and freedom of speech.
Bhushan is facing another contempt case related to two tweets posted by him on June 27 and 29. The first tweet commented about “undeclared emergency” in India and the role of the Supreme Court and last four chief justices of India. The second tweet was about Chief Justice SA Bobde trying out a Harley Davidson superbike in his hometown Nagpur.
In an affidavit filed before the top court in the the suo motu contempt case regarding his tweets, Bhushan had said the power of contempt must not be used to stifle voices that seek accountability from a court for its errors.
Bhushan said that his tweet about the last four chief justices was his “bonafide impression” about them. The advocate added that it was his opinion that the top court had allowed the democracy to be destroyed. Bhushan said that even though his personal views were “outspoken, disagreeable or unpalatable”, they couldn’t count as contempt.
The advocate said that his tweet about Bobde, on the other hand, was to “express my anguish at the non physical functioning of the Supreme Court for the last more than three months, as a result of which the fundamental rights of citizens were not being addressed or taken up for redressal”.