Former Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee told The Hindu on Saturday that the Supreme Court overreacted by taking action against lawyer Prashant Bhushan for his tweets on the judiciary.

“The court may at the most give a lecture to Prashant now,” Sorabjee said. “Warn him, but not punish him... It is rather a delicate balance to keep.”

The court was scheduled to pronounce the quantum of sentence on August 20, however, it gave Bhushan time till August 24 to reconsider his statement refusing to apologise to the court for the tweets.

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. Sorabjee said the court could have ignored the first tweet, and the second was merely an opinion.

“People have different beliefs, do you punish people for having some beliefs which are not to the liking of the Supreme Court?” Sorabjee asked. Sorabjee said that if Bhushan was ready to prove his allegations in court, he should be given a chance to do so. The former attorney general said the dignity and authority of the top court will be enhanced if it addresses the allegations instead of punishing Bhushan.

“Every citizen has the right to his independent view,” Sorabjee said. “I repeat, if Prashant Bhushan’s allegations are found to be completely nonsensical, then punish him, but not before, I don’t think the Supreme Court has come out in good light in this matter.”

Sorabjee said Attorney General KK Venugopal, who was present at the hearing, should have been given the chance to speak fully. He alleged that the court instead hurried through the case.

Sorabjee told The Quint that “the court has the notion that nobody can speak against us”. “You are not some divine institution against whom we can’t speak,” Sorabjee said of the top court.

“Common people will wonder why Bhushan is not allowed to speak,” Sorabjee said. “Is there corruption in the judiciary? Why was Bhushan shut up in the beginning. I don’t think judges are corrupt...but don’t punish the person who brought out the corruption.”