The Supreme Court on Thursday sought assistance from Attorney General KK Venugopal in the 2009 contempt case against advocate Prashant Bhushan, Bar and Bench reported. The court directed that the case records be sent to Venugopal, and posted the matter for further hearing on October 12.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for Bhushan, informed the court that Venugopal had said during an earlier hearing that he would like to assist the court and therefore, should be appointed an amicus curiae in the case.

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar directed that a notice should be served to Venugopal, based on Dhawan’s request. The top court said the attorney general would be impleaded in the case as per Rule 10 of the Supreme Court. However, a decision on whether he would be appointed as an amicus curiae in the case would be taken later.

The case relates to an interview Bhushan gave to the Tehelka magazine in 2009, in which he made allegations of corruption in the Supreme Court and said that half of the previous 16 chief justices were corrupt.

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 had refused to apologise but offered an explanation. On August 25, the Supreme Court then referred the case to a different “appropriate bench”.

Another contempt of court case

On August 31, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had ordered Bhushan to pay Re 1 as fine after he was held guilty of contempt of court for two tweets in connection with a different case.

In one tweet, he made a remark about an undeclared emergency and the role of the 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.