The Congress on Thursday said that “law has to be applied in an even-handed, fair and balanced manner” in the contempt case involving lawyer Prashant Bhushan, the Hindustan Times reported.

At a virtual press conference, Congress leader and advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the concerns raised by some people after the Supreme Court convicted Bhushan of contempt of court for a series of tweets were not frivolous. “They cannot be dismissed off hand and deserve a lot of careful thinking because they include former judges of that very court, they include precedence and they include the basic spirit of the Supreme Court that its chest is larger than any chest in India, and its shoulders being wider than any shoulder in India,” he said.

Following the judgement, more than 3,000 members of civil society including former judges, retired bureaucrats, journalists and lawyers had criticised the Supreme Court’s order. Over 1,800 members of the bar have also criticised the Supreme Court’s decision, besides Opposition leaders, lawyers, and human rights organisations.

Singhvi also expressed displeasure with the speed at which the Supreme Court made its judgement – taking just over three weeks to do so – but said he did not want to officially associate the Congress with opposition of the judgement, as it would require a resolution of some kind.

The case

The case pertains to two tweets of Bhushan’s from June 27 and June 29. The first tweet commented about an undeclared emergency and the role of Supreme Court and last four chief justices of India. The second tweet was about Chief Justice SA Bobde trying a Harley Davidson superbike in his hometown Nagpur during the coronavirus outbreak.

On August 19, Bhushan had moved the Supreme Court seeking to defer sentencing to announce his punishment till a review petition was filed and considered.

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Bhushan’s request to adjourn the hearing on the quantum of punishment and transfer it to another bench. The court gave the lawyer two to three days to reconsider his statements about the court and chief justice.

Bhushan, represented by advocate Dushyant Dave, requested the court to adjourn the hearing and said he intended to file a review petition against the August 14 judgment within the stipulated 30 days time as provided under Order 47 of the Supreme Court Rules of 2013.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari said the sentencing will not be implemented till the review petition is decided.

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Full text: ‘I do not ask for mercy, I cheerfully submit to any penalty,’ Prashant Bhushan tells SC